POEA projects 6% drop in OFW deployment

By Mayen Jaymalin, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 29 2011 08:18 PM | Updated as of Jan 30 2011 08:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Fewer Filipino workers are expected to get employed abroad this year, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported on Jan. 28.

POEA chief Carlos Cao Jr. said the government foresee as much as a 6% drop in overseas deployment for 2011 with the strict implementation of a new law protecting migrant workers.

“Based on initial estimate, we are looking at 5% to 6% reduction in deployment because of our current direction to give emphasis in protection although we are not abandoning effort to deploy workers abroad,” Cao disclosed.

“As we give emphasis on protection it is natural for us to be selective and opt for better jobs,” Cao added.

Cao noted that under the Aquino administration, the government would promote the deployment of highly skilled workers and discourage employment of household service workers (HSWs) who comprise the bulk of OFWs abroad, but are more vulnerable to abuses.

Last year, Cao said the POEA recorded a 3% decline in the number of Filipinos hired abroad mainly due to the implementation of the newly amended Migrant Workers Act.

The new law mandates, among others, insurance coverage for every Filipino worker to be deployed abroad and foreign countries to have certificate of “safe destination” from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

To prevent a possible decline in hiring of overseas workers this year, Cao said the government is intensifying programs to provide for free skills training for aspiring OFWs.

“We are already coordinating with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority so we could provide skills training that could make our workers more qualified for better employment abroad,” Cao pointed out.

Cao said the POEA is also working with the country’s maritime industry to enable the country to fill the high global demand for seafarers.

Ericson Marquez, an official of the Filipino Association for Mariners Employment Inc. (FAME), said there are at least 43,000 vacancies available for Filipino seafarers for the next three years.

“For the next three years, about 4,700 new foreign vessels would be built that would require crewmen. Based on this we are projecting at least 43,000 new jobs for Filipino seafarers,” Marquez explained.

At this time, Marquez said Filipino seafarers comprise 30% of the total number of global seafarers.

Marquez said private maritime industry would be coordinating with the government, including the POEA so that the country could capture up to 50% of the jobs for maritime officers and crew worldwide.

As this developed, POEA belied reports that the government has imposed a deployment ban in countries without the necessary certification from the DFA.

Migrante International claimed that they have been getting numerous inquiries regarding reports that the government banned the deployment of workers in several countries.

Cao said the government cannot just impose a deployment ban just because a country employing OFWs failed to secure the mandated certification from the DFA.

“We also need to consider diplomatic repercussions as well as the need for employment of our workers before we could impose a ban,” Cao explained.