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Labor Migration - Politics and Governance

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LABOR MIGRATION POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE BY: JULIUS MARK IBA�EZ Labor migration has always been an issue. In the Philippines, more and more workers are leaving. And these workers are not just ordinary workers. Most of these are professionals and technical workers. Filipinos leave the country because they want to earn more. However, in the long run, the Philippines is on the losing end, because skills and talents are becoming scarce. Eventually, the Philippines will be left with mostly unskilled and untrained workers. Only the receiving countries and migrants gain. Hence, the labor migration phenomenon creates an inequality among trading nations. Nevertheless, the government cannot force its labor force to stay because the Philippines simply does not have enough money to satisfy them. Therefore, measures should be taken in order to maximize the benefits that are gained from the exchange of migrant labor. If laborers are going to leave anyway, the Philippines might as well make sure that it gets something out of the trade, both in the short and in the long term. I. History 2,500 Filipinos per day. That is the average number of Filipinos who leave the country to seek employment abroad (DOLE, 2002). It illustrates the immense labor exodus that has been happening in the Philippines. "Wages in Manila are barely enough to answer for my family's needs. I must go abroad to better my chances," as one Filipino puts it (Takaki, 1995). Filipinos who earn minimal income could no longer keep up with the country's high-priced commodities. The situation is even worsened by inflation that further decreases the purchasing power of the Peso. As a Filipino accountant in the United States explains, "It is common [in the Philippines] for middle-class Filipinos to work at two or even three jobs because of the high cost of living.... ...read more.


They provide social and welfare services including insurance coverage, legal assistance, placement assistance and remittance services, among others (DOLE, 2001). Another agency of the government is the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch. It is a registered civil society network that was established in 1995 to encourage the recognition, protection and fulfillment of Filipino migrants' rights-both in the Philippines and abroad during the entire migration process. PMRW is also concerned with monitoring the welfare of the Filipino workers. They make sure that abuses towards the overseas workers are not overlooked and that justice is fully given (PMRW, 2004). Lastly, the Department of Foreign Affairs, or DFA, is the agency of the government whose goal is to establish the country's foreign policies. The DFA is also in-charge of Foreign Service worthy of the trust and pride of every Filipino worker, and associates itself with private sectors to provide workers with their interests as well. In addition, the DFA protects and promotes the welfare of the Filipino workers abroad and considers these workers as partners in national development (DFA, 2000). III. Private Sector Efforts Not only are the government organizations working on the issues concerning labor migration, but private sectors are also doing their share in helping their countrymen abroad, in one way or another. The following groups of people are examples of those sectors that wish to improve the lives of migrant workers. The first non-government organization is the Center for Migrant Advocacy-Philippines (CMA-Phils). This advocacy groups promotes the rights of overseas Filipinos and their families. Moreover, this center works to help improve the economic, social, and political conditions of migrant Filipino families everywhere through policy advocacy, information dissemination, networking, capability-building, and direct assistance (CMA). ...read more.


However, the loss of human capital may slow down development in the Philippines and increase global inequality. If labor migration is motivated only by the considerations of individual migrants and employers, the result may be increased economic inequality that leaves our country on a labor exporting treadmill. The emigration countries hold most of the keys to our economic futures, and their policies on issues ranging from providing economic opportunities to graduates to adherence to human rights are usually the major factors that determine whether labor migrants emigrate, remit, and return. The Philippines may have only limited abilities to offer the educational and research opportunities needed to keep laborers at home in the short- to medium-term, and industrial countries that accept highly skilled migrants from the Philippines should agree to replenish the human capital they acquired via migration. In conclusion, the labor migration issue facing the Philippine society today can only be confronted if we are equipped with the knowledge of its history, causes, and effects. Understanding its background will lead us to a more efficient means of resolving the issues, like eliminating the inequality between the sending and receiving countries as well as maximizing benefits for the Philippines. Along with that, putting government and private sector efforts side by side will help us be aware of our current situation and realize what can still be done. The recommendations the group presented were very general and have a very broad scope. In order that these recommendations might be implemented, specific and concrete programs and efforts must be planned and done. These suggestions are not exclusively addressed towards the Philippine government but to all of the stakeholders in the labor migration phenomenon. If everyone helps, the elimination of inequality created by labor migration is very much possible. If everyone helps, the benefits of labor migration may be maximized. If everyone helps, everyone could win. ...read more.

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