Highlights Recommendations for Addressing Migration and Development Issues
KOWLOON, Hong Kong â€“ May, 25, 2010 â€“ A network, composed of overseas Filipinos worldwide based in many countries and in the Philippines, recently wrote an open letter to Senator Benigno â€œNoynoyâ€ Aquino III, president-elect of the Republic of the Philippines. The open letter highlights the perspectives unique to migrant Filipinos and offers solutions that could impact transformational, positive changes in policy making. After many years of collaboration and cooperation, the group, which represents various organizations implementing projects in the Philippines and in their host countries, offers a starting reference point for the incoming administration, led by President-Elect Aquino, to more effectively harness the Philippinesâ€™ migration gains into mechanisms for the development of the Philippines and its hometown communities.
The open letter points out several key economic points, among them:
ï‚§ Migration gains are mainly remittances by overseas Filipinos to their family members, approximately USD17 billion, and are the primary source of livelihood for millions of Philippine households.
ï‚§ At 10.8% of the countryâ€™s GDP, migration gains are also the third biggest source of the countryâ€™s foreign currency reserves, acting as the primary driver of the Philippine economy, thus shielding the country from bankruptcy during the current economic meltdown and the 1997 financial crisis.
ï‚§ The Filipino diaspora, estimated currently at about 10 million Filipinos working or residing in 239 countries and territories worldwide, have sent donations to the Philippines for various humanitarian causes, such as disaster relief, medical missions, school houses, and other infrastructure. These contributions have supplemented local and national Philippine government deficits and, as of 2003, have already amounted to USD218 million, per central bank figures in that year. Not included are other investments made by OFWs in real estate, education, and health care for their family members, and consumer goods and services.
The group emphasizes the urgent need to push for genuine poverty alleviation after 30-plus years of heavy reliance on labor export, and as thousands of Filipinos continue to leave every day for overseas jobs or contracts. Although the â€œPhilippine model of overseas migrationâ€ is considered an ideal model for other migrant-origin countries to emulate and copy, the group believes that social costs that migration has incurred have not been successfully addressed by past administrations. They cite examples of countries such as South Korea, Ireland, and Italy, once considered labor-exporting countries, that evolved from their â€œmigration humpâ€ by taking advantage of their workersâ€™ remittances, investing them to develop local infrastructure, shipyards, factories, and other industries. As a result, a â€œbrain gainâ€ occurred. Many of these expatriates left their high-paying jobs abroad, convinced that their home countriesâ€™ governments were effective and that they could trust their countryâ€™s inspired leadership.
The open letter frankly addresses Senator Aquino: â€œShall we continue to send out our people and rely on remittances and without any development objectives in sight? Conversely, donâ€™t we have the talent to formulate a road map toward self-sufficiency over a period of time, in order that the hemorrhage of talents could be stopped, that a crisis in our dysfunctional families and society at large could be averted, and so that our people do not have to take migration as a forced option? If long-term migration goals are set now, the government could, in the meantime, work on some basic but urgent deployment and migration issues in order to clear the way toward having a genuine and serious program on translating migration gains for use in human development.â€