Monday, November 03, 2008

RP selected as target country for global initiative on migration and development

GMANews.TV - Wednesday, October 29

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines was selected to be a target country for the 15-million-euro (P950-million) global joint initiative of the European Commission and the United Nations that intends to produce a new way of making migration work for development.

Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, head of the delegation of the European Commission to the Philippines, on Tuesday said that the country was selected to be one of the 16 target countries of the joint initiative which is fully funded by the European Commission and implemented by the UN Development Program. "The Philippines was selected as one of the (target) countries because of the sheer size of the Philippine diaspora," he said during a press conference at the Philippine International Convention Center.

He said that there are currently 10 million Filipinos who are working overseas, which was the total population of the Philippines 19 years ago. In other words, he said that the Philippines has a lot of ideas and best practices to share with other countries of origin in terms of migration. "There are a lot of good ideas in the Philippines (that) we can share globally, the Philippines can benefit and the Philippines can contribute," said MacDonald.

The 15 other countries selected were Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Georgia, Moldova, Ecuador, Jamaica, Sri Lanka, Cape Verde, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the initiative aims to create forums where practitioners can meet and exchange knowledge with the aim of facilitating migration and development interventions.

A fair in Brussels, Belgium will be held during the first week of December where practitioners will be asked to showcase the best migration practices of their countries, while a Web site will be created to serve as a platform to share news and information regarding existing migration and development initiatives.

During the same month, a call for proposals will be launched, showcasing an allotted fund of €11 million or P690 million for concrete project proposals for the facilitation of migrant communities, migrant rights, and their remittances. The grants will provide €50,000 to €200,000 (P3.3 million to P13.4 million) to support concrete interventions and partnerships of the selected proposals.

On the other hand, Peter Sutherland, special representative of the UN secretary-general on migration, said during the same press conference that such an initiative is "an opportunity but is also a challenge to produce results." "I think we owe it to the each other or more particularly we owe it to the migrant community to make effective use of the resources at our disposal, whether it is in government, the UN, or non-governmental organizations," he said.

Meanwhile, UN Population Fund Representative Suneeta Mukherjee on Tuesday supported this by saying that countries reap economic benefits from the labor of its people in foreign lands so people should strive to protect their interests at home and overseas in return. "We must remember that the tree that gives us fruit and the crop that gives us harvest needs protection. They need to be looked after, they have rights," she said.

She said that this first joint program between the European Commission and the UN represents a major innovation in strategic partnerships at a global level. "Through this program, we hope (to) address decision makers and keep them fully informed of the good practices of migration and development," she said. -


Rights: GMANews.TV

‘Filipinos paying for RP’s migration policies’

MANILA, Philippines - Despite being frequently cited as a model for migration policies, the Philippine government is making its people pay for its policy of sending more and more Filipino workers abroad in order to keep the economy afloat, a civil society group said.

“Filipino society is paying a steep price for the massive exodus of its members," said Fr. Fabio Baggio of the Scalabrini Migration Center in his paper presented during the recently concluded Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) at the Philippine International Cultural Center in Manila.

Titled “Enhancing Benefits and Reducing Costs," the paper said that brain drain or the transfer of knowledge, technology and resources may cause salutary effects on the growth of countries like the Philippines.

“The Philippines appeared to have produced little effort in this important area," he said.

Thus, he said that the Philippine government’s enthusiasm for the increased deployment of more highly skilled and professional migrants should be reviewed in the light of the political consequences of the brain drain and “professional exodus."

Moreover, he said the Philippine government’s reliance on migrants’ remittances has progressively taken the appearance of a real economic dependence.

He also said that the economic benefits driven by Filipino migrants’ remittances cannot be denied both at the macro and micro levels.

“At the macroeconomic level, for the last years the surge in remittances has been boosting the Philippine peso, easing the foreign debt burden and taming national inflation," he said.

In 2007, OFWs remitted about US$14.4 billion or more than P215 billion through legal channels, constituting 9.2 percent of the total Gross National Product (GNP).

“Nevertheless, while the substantial role remittances play in increasing the Philippines’ GNP should be recognized, little empirical evidence has been produced on how migrants’ money transfers have significantly improved the domestic economy," he said.

On the other hand, he said the families of Filipino migrants appear to benefit from foreign remittances on the microeconomic level.

Economic disparity

However, he also said that while the bulk of migrant remittances appear to produce positive effects at the national and the family level, the results at the local community level are not well-established.

Baggio said he believes that overseas remittances are likely to contribute to “a widening of the economic disparities across regions."

While remittances serve to enhance family incomes, the extent to which they represent a “net increase" has not been clearly assessed.

He said that empirical data show that families of migrants tend to rely on remittances alone, reducing progressively their work effort.

“The extended separation of family members (also) affects marital and parental relationships and constitutes a threat to the stability of the family unit," he said.

The Commission for Filipinos Overseas estimated that 8,726,520 Filipino nationals were living overseas as of December 2007.

According to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), 1,073,402 Filipinos migrated abroad as regular migrant workers in 2007, a slight increase from the 1,062,567 deployed in 2006.

With these figures, the Philippines is among the countries with the biggest number of migrants, the others being India, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Jordan and Sri Lanka.

In 2005, migrants around the world was estimated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) at 191 million, of which about 40 million were “illegals.".

A continuing global reliance on worker deployment

In the 2nd GFMD, delegates from about 163 countries, including 18 foreign officials of ministerial level, discussed ways of “protecting and empowering migrants for development."

Next year’s GFMD will be held in Greece, with the integration of migration policies in development plans as the central theme.

Greek Deputy Minister of Interior Athanassios Nakos, who attended the 2nd GFMD in Manila, said: “We aim at ensuring the thematic continuity of the forum, but also at tackling new issues that constitute today’s challenges in the migration and development field," in his speech during the closing ceremonies of the GFMD government days.

“International migration needs to be an integral part of the development agenda, as well as part of national, regional, and international development strategies," said Nakos.

Moreover, he said that Greece aims to maximize the benefits from international migration and minimize its impacts.

“We should work so that migration becomes a choice instead of a necessity," he said.

He also said that there is an increasing interdependence of all countries, whether countries of origin, of transit or of destination in migration.

“Interdependence is the key issue that we need to take into account in conceiving, adopting and implementing our migration policies at all levels," he said.

Now a migrant-receiving country

Meanwhile, since Greece became a migrant-receiving country from being a migrant-sending country, Nakos said it has a lot of ideas to share with the world.

“Migration, in Greece, cannot any more be considered as a temporary phenomenon. Our policy is constantly reviewed and adopted to the evolving situation," he said.

However, he recognized the fact that even their country is having problems regarding the phenomenon.

“Our migration policy at an orderly migration, with due respect to the rights of individuals, the migrants themselves, and their integration in our society," he said.

On the other hand, he said that aside from their own ideas, they will be sure to include the inputs of the Manila GFMD.

“We will take back home a valuable trove of ideas and best practices presented by all of you," he told the delegates during his speech. - GMANews.TV