by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO
OFW Journalism Consortium
PASIG CITY—MANY of the overseas Filipino workers displaced last year by the global economic crisis, and who availed of government’s employment and livelihood assistance packages, are from Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas.
Documents from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) showed that among the country’s provincial regions, displaced OFWs in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon), availed most of services.
The document given to the OFW Journalism Consortium said the services availed included securing entrepreneurial loans and training and job placement locally and overseas.
Government services for displaced OFWs were provided by Manila-headquartered national government agencies, by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), and through the regional offices of the Department of Labor and Employment, OWWA, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
All in all, the document said the Philippine government provided service to a total of 12,117 OFWs displaced by the global crisis.
Calabarzon’s 764 displaced OFWs got the highest amount of loans of the government’s Filipino Expatriate Financial Livelihood Support Fund (FELSF) with P33 million (see Graphic 1).
Apart from Calabarzon, other provincial regions that got most of the FELSF loans include Central Luzon (532 displaced OFWs, P25 million); Bicol (307 OFWs, P15.35 million); Central Visayas (282 OFWs, P14 million); Ilocos (253 OFWs, 12.6 million); and, Cagayan Valley (241 OFWs, P12 million).
About 768 displaced OFWs who are from the National Capital Region got a total of P31.16 million in loans from the FELSF, among the government’s stimulus packages last year to displaced Filipino workers.
A total of 4,464 OFWs displaced by the global economic crisis got loans worth roughly P205 million from the FELSF.
An FELSF borrower can access as much as P50,000 for a start up business.
Even before the displaced OFW gets the loan, the OWWA’s regional offices and the NRCO provided them with P10,000-worth of entrepreneurship training services for them to develop a business plan. The entrepreneurial training serves as the first phase of the FELSF.
Once the business plan is approved by the NRCO, the OFW goes to the second phase and avails of a non-collateralized loan that can be as much as P50,000, with an annual interest rate of five percent. The loan availee must pay the loan in two years, as OWWA gives a grace period of 90 days for ease of payment.
CALABARZON also had the most number of terms of those displaced OFWs who sought local and overseas job placement assistance. Some 373 displaced OFWs from Calabarzon got such assistance, with 179 of them placed in other overseas jobs and 174 in local jobs (see Graphic 2).
Central Luzon, for its part, had 247 displaced OFWs who sought job placement assistance, with 204 of them availing of overseas job placement assistance (more than that of Calabarzon).
Usual government migration data show that Calabarzon and Central Luzon had the most number of deployed migrant workers, permanent residents, households receiving remittances from abroad, and remittances received.
Some 179 displaced OFWs from Calabarzon also got assistance from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in terms of skills training for some livelihood activities.
Displaced OFWs from Central Visayas who availed of TESDA’s assistance are the most in number with 189. Behind Central Visayas and Calabarzon are Central Luzon (152), Central Mindanao (150), and CARAGA (132).
Central Visayas had the most number of displaced OFWs who sought legal assistance from the POEA (45), followed by those from Western Mindanao or Zamboanga peninsula (see Table 1).
Central Visayas also got the most number of those who availed of OWWA’s regular training programs such as the Skill for Employment Scholarship Program or SESP (121) and an internet literacy project co-implemented by OWWA and IT company Microsoft (148).
THE POEA has yet to issue its 2009 deployment figures, but experts predict that deployment figure will be higher than the 2008 total deployment figure of 1,236,013 since it is the natural reaction of home countries affected by economic crises to deploy more overseas workers.
The 12,117 displaced OFWs the government assisted proves the number of OFWs affected by the global economic crisis is “small” compared to the total number of overseas workers and immigrants found in some 239 countries and territories.
But Linda Wirth, Manila director of the International Labour Office (ILO), says one should not discount anecdotal evidence that Filipinos abroad, even in spells of unemployment given the crisis, chose not to go home.
These affected overseas Filipinos dug into their piggy banks, endured flexible work arrangements just to remain employed, and did multiple jobs to continually send money home, Wirth told participants of an international forum on migration recently.
These arrangements, Wirth told participants of the Salzburg Global Seminar in Pasig City, “are better than going home”.
She observed, however, that the Philippine government “has done a lot” of services to displaced overseas workers.
Summarizing government’s services for displaced OFWs, about 1,163 displaced OFWs got skills training assistance from TESDA (see Table 2), while 2,743 OFWs got job placement assistance (with 2,129 of them availing of overseas job placement assistance).
About 4,464 displaced OFWs got FELSF loans totalling to P204,589,316, and that number came from a pool of 5,371 displaced OFWs who were endorsed by NRCO and OWWA to avail of the FELSF loans.
About 331 displaced OFWs (see Table 3) availed of regular training programs from OWWA such as Skill for Employment Scholarship Program or SESP, while 375 displaced OFWs benefited from the Tulay Internet literacy project.
OFW Journalism Consortium
Many displaced OFWs come from RP’s top migration regions-report
by JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO