MANILA, Philippines – Migrants group Migrante International criticized the statements of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on the possibility of opening the Philippine job market to foreigners due to lack of qualified Filipino applicants in certain occupations.
Migrante International chairperson Gary Martinez said opening jobs in the country to foreigners is an “insult” to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who go through a rigorous and costly process to work abroad.
“Insulto naman talaga ‘yan sa part ng ating mga OFW dahil malinaw ang sinabi ni Secretary Baldoz dito sa paghi-hire ng foreign workers…Ang dami nilang exemption samantalang itong ating mga OFW kapag umaalis ay gumagastos ng more than P20,000 sa requirements,” he told ANC’s “Top Story” on Thursday.
Government clarified on Thursday that the proposal to allow foreign workers to take up local jobs is still being studied.
Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma said it is the business community and not the DOLE that broached the idea of opening up certain professions to foreigners.
But Martinez believes that Coloma’s statements are just “damage control,” saying Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz should be wary of her statements which may affect morale of Filipino workers across the world.
“Palagay ko nang lumabas ang report na ‘yan, ‘yan ay damage control. Sa isang radio interview mismo sa kanya nanggaling at wala siyang sinasabi na galing sa industriya, kaya ito ay umani ng maraming batikos hindi lamang dito sa Pilipinas kung hindi sa iba’t-ibang panig ng mundo,” Martinez said.
He said government should prioritize hiring Filipinos, creating more jobs, and offering competitive salaries.
“I-offer natin ang pinakamagandang sahod dito sa Pilipinas para ‘yung ating mga kababayan at ang kanilang mga talent ay dito nagagamit,” Martinez said.
“Hindi dapat band-aid solution ang binibigay ng Pangulo sa problemang ito. Kung may makauwi tayong mga kababayan dapat ma-ensure ‘yung kanilang pangmatagalang hanapbuhay sa ating bansa at hindi ‘yung ipapasa na naman sa labas at magiging busabos na naman,” he added.
DOLE recently released the Skills Occupational Shortage List, which includes occupations where there is a "shortage of skills and could be opened potentially to foreign skilled workers."
"(This is) a two-pronged sword that would serve as a signal to employers, industry, professional groups, education and training institutions to expand training/ educational opportunities in identified occupations and can be utilized as basis for policy formulation in the deployment sector and/or entry of skilled workers to promote 'brain gain' or technology transfer," the DOLE said.
Among the professions where there is a shortage of skills listed by DOLE include architect, chemical engineer, guidance counselor, librarian, medical technologist, and pilot.