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Kabayan Forum


First International Labor Opportunities Forum

10 November 2005

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

I am pleased to welcome you today to this First International Labor Opportunities Forum organized by the Department of Labor and Employment.

It is indeed very timely for Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas and the DOLE to bring together the major players in the international labor market (such as recruitment agencies, training centers, and overseas employment allied agencies) in a forum that will tackle new opportunities for Filipino workers abroad. It is no secret that our estimated 2 million Filipinos working abroad now constitute a very important segment of our economy. and perhaps, one of the sectors responsible for strengthening the peso over the past few weeks. These workers --- our countrymen --- are not only our new heroes. They have become the new drivers of economic growth and the new foundations of economic stability.

The Filipino Worker and National Development

Since we were young, we have been taught that the Philippines is a resource-rich country, And that the greatest resource of the Philippines is its people.

Nothing can be more accurate today.

From a country that was once considered as a supplier of mineral resources in the 50’s, to a major producer of agricultural commodities in the 60’s and the 70’s, to one that manufactured semi-conductors and garments for first-world countries in the 80’s and 90’s, the Philippines is now increasingly seen as a rich source of talented and industrious workers for companies abroad.

Consider this: five years ago, remittances from overseas Filipinos amounted to a little over 6 billion dollars. Today, based on the latest estimate of the bangko sentral ng pilipinas, these remittances totalled 7 billion dollars in the first eight months of the year, and may even exceed 10 billion by year-end.

Two decades ago, these remittances, as reflected in our net factor income from abroad, accounted for only 1 percent of our Gross National Product or gnp. Today, these remittances contributes approximately 8 percent to GNP.

Without the steady inflow of money from overseas filipino workers into the country, our macroeconomic situation would not be as stable and our country would probably be in dire need of foreign exchange.

Managing the Social Costs of Development

Ladies and gentlemen, I am truly one with you in exploring new opportunities for Filipino workers abroad.

I know the importance of providing employment to our ever-expanding labor force, even if such employment could be found outside of Philippine soil.

Like many Filipinos, I realize the contribution of our overseas workers and the sacrifices that they had to endure in order to help their families here.

In many instances, I encourage our OFWs to be living examples of the qualities of true filipino heroes --- service, hard work, sacrifice, honor, and honesty.

I tell them that they represent not just themselves but the entire filipino people. I remind them that they belong to the select few who have successfully found jobs outside of the philippines. in a sense, they are the lucky ones.

Yet, as presidential adviser for overseas filipino workers, I am also equally concerned with the social costs involved. I am concerned with how the families they leave behind cope with their absence.

These families will probably have a steady source of income while their father or mother is out of the country. And probably, these families will be better-off economically compared to their neighbors.

but let us not forget that these families are also paying a steep social price for their newfound economic abundance. to the department of labor and employment, let us not lose sight of this concern. let us work closely with the stakeholders in the industry to ensure that family ties and values are likewise protected. in every opportunity i have, i always remind our ofws and their families not to forget family loyalty.

New Labor Opportunities in the Philippines

My friends, as I go over your program for the workshops today, I realize that you will have sessions dealing with recruitment and new labor opportunities in Asia, Americas and Oceania, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Europe, and the Cruise Industry.

These are indeed lucrative markets for talented Filipinos and I congratulate the Department of Labor and Employment once again for focusing on these areas.

I just hope that in the future, and in due time, we will also have a session on new labor opportunities in the Philippines. My dream is that one day, we will be surprised to find out that the Philippines has become the most attractive labor market for our own workers. this may not happen soon, but i am confident that we will eventually get there.

With your support, and with a strong partnership between government and the private sector, i am sure that we can improve the lives of our people and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

Once more, I welcome you to this activity and i thank our partner organizations for making this forum happen.

Thank you and good day to all of you.

Mabuhay po kayo at magandang umaga sa inyong lahat!                                                                                   HOME | back-to-top  

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