Monday, July 04, 2005

Voices Amid the Diaspora

Today's link has to be more news:

Three things stand out in this news flash:

1) Acting Labor Secretary Danilo Cruz says: "We are confident that our goal to deploy a million OFWs globally continues on a firm and stable track." Official government policy has made trafficking of Filipino workers a priority. What Cruz does not say is that the unemployment rate has not seen single digits in a long, long time. There are not enough new jobs created. And we're not even talking about underemployment.

2) The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier reported that OFW remittances rose by 17.22 percent from January to April 2005 to $3.072 billion from $2.621 billion in the same period last year. Consider that the Philippines has the third-largest migrant worker count (after China and India) and has the third-largest remittance volume (after Mexico and India), so it's safe to say, per capita, the Philippines is the country most dependent on foreign remittances and foreign-based workers. While this is not entirely a bad thing, the dearth of government initiatives for overseas workers outside of OWWA is appalling. Assuming OWWA is doing its job, which many well nigh have a right to complain about.

3) Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said the Philippines continues to supply 20 to 25 percent of the world's maritime workers. This is an amazing statistic, and it's so sad that we don't have a strong merchant marine, since most vessels are registered elsewhere.

OFWs should keep demanding more than just a vote. With the money we send, we deserve more representation. Any effort to tax us should be enough for us to say "No Taxation Without Representation."

At the same time, it's time to put an end to self-appointed protectors among the Left who pretend that they speak for us. My message to these guys: Poverty and exploitation are everywhere, you fools! What all OFWs desire is a chance to come back --- don't make it any harder for us to come back by railing against the government. Look for solutions, not propaganda points. We already have a financially and morally bankrupt government, so don't pretend you know any more than what we already know.

Amid this diaspora, I'm certain there are voices that represent a dynamism that Filipinos back home have not demonstrated in a long time. The leadership that the country needs is already among us - and the experiences we have picked up outside the country should be put to more use than complaining and whining, "Mabuti pa sa ________ (fill country name), mayroong...."

I'll tell you what's missing. In most countries Filipinos have a respect for the law and abide by rules and regulations. And manage to succeed despite, rather, because of this adherence. That's because we work harder - we can't rely on connections alone in order to perform.

Voices amid the diaspora should raise theirs to send this message to the people back home.

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