During the Kapihan sa Senado last Nov. 29, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was quoted as saying, “Ang pinakamalaking export natin is the OFWs (overseas Filipino workers). Export iyan eh, kaya ako kontra sa RH dahil diyan…”
While Enrile is right in his observation that OFWs are our country’s biggest export, his justification of his anti-RH stand is misplaced.
Enrile failed to recognize the root causes of the Philippines’ forced migration phenomenon.
To say that the Philippine economy will improve mainly with an intensified government labor export program and abundant human resources for export (which are keeping the economy afloat) is not true at all.
Even at present, no migrant-sending state can claim that it has gained economic development by merely relying on its migrants’ remittances, though undeniably these help pump up its stagnant local economy through massive local consumption.
More so, Enrile failed to see that most OFWs who are engaged in a contractual employment return to the country empty-handed, only to be reintegrated to the jobless population.
But even so, to be sure, OFW remittances contributed to the country’s reported 7.1-percent GDP growth in the third quarter. However, the question is, how would this 7.1-percent growth positively impact the lives of OFWs and their families? This is a good question to ponder in the face of the peso’s appreciation against the dollar and the rising prices of basic goods and services.
The 7.1-percent growth is a positive bulletin only for the Philippine population’s 1-percent rich families; for the 99 percent poor and middle-income families, it won’t be felt.
Thus, Enrile’s justification of his anti-RH stand will only intensify the “peddling” of the services of millions of unemployed Filipinos abroad—never mind that they are not given adequate protection by the Philippine government and their rights and welfare as migrant workers are disregarded. And it won’t solve the forced migration phenomenon because it does not squarely solve the root causes of the problem.—JOHN LEONARD MONTERONA, regional coordinator, Migrante-Middle East