154 OFWs leave for South Korea

By Apples Jalandoni, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2010 01:01 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2010 09:29 AM

…as Cimatu sees stabilization of security problem there


MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A total of 154 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) left for Inchon in South Korea on Monday to work in several factories there.

Families and friends accompanied them at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. 

Clarissa Bonete couldn't suppress her tears as she said goodbye to her son, Jon Jon. 

She is worried about her son's safety because of the reported violence between North and South Korea. 

"Siyempre nanay ako, hindi maiwasang mag-alala,baka mapaano siya doon,” she said. 

However, Jon Jon is determined to leave the country. "Pa extra-extra lang akong waiter dito. At least doon, tuloy tuloy ang trabaho, para na rin ito sa pamilya." 

Jorge Cuasin was accompanied to the airport by his 4-year-old daughter. He said it's difficult to leave the country for the first time. It was made worse because it’s right before Christmas. 

He, however, couldn't let go of the chance to earn a good salary with free board and lodging. "Masakit sa akin, mami-miss ko pamilya ko," he said. 

The OFWs’ trip was deferred for a week because of North Korea's bombing of South Korean island Yeonpyeong. 

The Department of Labor and Employment and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) lifted the suspension after Philippine special envoy Roy Cimatu reported that it is safe to work in Inchon, Daikon, and Seoul where factories are. 

POEA said South Korea still needs 9,000 workers and the Philippines will continue sending OFWs to the country until next year.

In an interview with ANC's Dateline on Monday, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said she got advance information from special envoy to South Korea Roy Cimatu regarding his security assessment report.

She said the "thrust of the report is there’s normalization and stabilization of situation there [Korea]. He does not see any security risk to the Filipinos.”

Baldoz said the OFWs bound for South Korea are highly-skilled workers who will be working in manufacturing industries.

The North launched an artillery attack more than a week ago killing 4 people.

Days after, the US and South Korea held a naval war game in a show of unity and force.

The team of Cimatu will be arriving within the day to officially issue a report.

This would also mean that any plans for the evacuation of Filipinos would be set aside, Baldoz said.

“We’re just thankful [to South Korea] that this deferment did not result in any contract cancellation,” she said.

Had the security situation in the Korean peninsula worsened, she said this would have led to continued deferment and possibly even a ban on deployment of OFWs to South Korea.

Another 20 OFWs bound for South Korea are undergoing training and may leave before the end of the year, Baldoz said.

There are about 60,000 Filipinos in South Korea. Around 10,000 of them are undocumented.

Through the so-called Employment Placement System (EPS), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration undertakes a government-to-government deployment of skilled and unskilled workers for factories and small business enterprises there. - with a report from abs-cbnNEWS.com