Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas today voiced confidence that the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 2005 will touch the one million mark or even surpass it following the deployment worldwide of a total of 933,588 documented OFWs in 2004. She said that deployment for the first time breached the 900,000 level in 2004 and would likely approach the one million level in 2005 as both traditional (like Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Taiwan, Italy, Singapore, Qatar, and the United Kingdom) and emerging markets worldwide maintained their preference for OFWs.

Sto. Tomas’s report came amidst developments that affirmed the productive role of the OFWs worldwide chiefly as follows:

1) The report of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that OFW remittances reached US$8.5 billion in 2004 confirming the DOLE’s projections; b) the delisting of the Philippines from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) money laundering list which affirms the productive role of the OFWs and safeguards sound remittance channels; and, c) continued preference for OFWs in both emerging and traditional markets around the globe.

Sto. Tomas said the DOLE’s projection of growth in OFW deployment for 2005 is supported by the fact that the deployment of 933,588 OFWs in 2004 is only 66,412 shy of the one million level.

“To ensure that these goals are met, the DOLE and POEA, in coordination with the legitimate private recruitment industry of the country, shall be conducting, year round, high level marketing missions to tap and strengthen OFW markets,” the labor and employment chief said.

Accordingly, she said that the DOLE shall also proceed with the 2nd International Employers Awards and the International Jobs Fair on schedule within the year, while leading the quarterly marketing forum for private recruitment agencies, and actively promoting, and sustaining OFW services.

Labor Undersecretary for employment Danilo P. Cruz said that based on these strengths, “our plan to stay the course and stay on top has a multiple goal, to wit: a) maintain and boost our strengths in the traditional markets of OFWs; b) tap effectively the new and emerging markets; c) sustain our efforts to ensure the welfare and reintegration programs for the benefit of OFWs and their families; and, d) redouble our efforts against illegal recruiters in order to neutralize their nefarious tendencies.”

Cruz, citing the POEA’s Marketing Plan for 2005, stressed that “to offset the potential job loss in the Japanese market of about 55,000 and generate an additional 65,000 overseas jobs, we are aiming for new and additional opportunities” in the following markets:

1) Israel for caregivers, tourism, and construction workers; 2) Macau for hotel, and casino, workers; 3) Singapore and China for teachers; 4) Australia, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, and South Africa for health care workers; 5) the Cayman Islands for restaurant workers and the Bahamas for medical and
skilled workers; 6) the United Kingdom for social workers, and physical and occupational therapists; 7) Kazakhstan for technical and professional workers in the oil, energy, and construction sectors; and,
8) Iran for skilled workers.

Sto. Tomas had been apprised by POEA Administrator Rosalinda D. Baldoz on some of the encouraging developments in both the land- and sea-based sectors in 2005 as follows:

a) In the land-based sector, the Employment Permit System (EPS) of Korea will be a “sure source of
more jobs for Filipino workers as we see a 200 percent rise over last year’s deployment figure
surpassing 900 together with smoother hiring procedures;”

b) The Special Hiring Program for Taiwan will “take off for higher ground to generate at least 1,000
jobs for production workers;” and,
c) On the maritime front, the deployment of seafarers on board to man ocean-going ships shall
continue to grow by at least six percent worldwide in 2005.

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