Monday, November 03, 2008

‘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



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