MANILA, Philippines - More and more Filipinos are leaving their families to look for greener pastures abroad as the number of “first time" overseas Filipino workers increased in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2007.
In GMA news’ 24 Oras on Friday, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said that “first time" OFWs from January to August this year reached 284,417.
This was a 19.5 percent increase from 237,986 in the same period in 2007.
Meanwhile, the total number of OFWs deployed this year from January to August reached 861,785 or 26.8 percent higher than the 679,519 in the same period last year.
POEA deputy administrator Hans Leo Cacdac attributed the increase in the deployment of OFWs in the wider market available for Filipino migrant workers.
“New markets have been opened in many areas in the Middle East and First World countries, which is Canada, Australia, and New Zealand," Cacdac said.
Labor Secretary Marianito Roque expects demand for OFWs will increase next year.
“I think that is given that why we have Philippines Overseas Employment Administration, whose purpose is to facilitate overseas employment of our workers… but subject to rules and subject to the protection of our workers," Roque said.
At the House briefing on the proposed 2009 budget for the Labor Department, Roque said they are negotiating with "non-traditional countries" such as Norway, Finland, and France to create job opportunities for OFWs.
“There are now ongoing negotiations with countries to increase workers…these are new developments," Roque told the House panel.
“Before, France was a closed market," Roque said as he announced that the rich European country is now being tapped for nursing jobs and engineering jobs for Filipinos.
He said the Philippines is also negotiating with officials of the southern part of Australia.
In this area, he said that there was a possibility of sending around 30,000 mining, health care, and information technology Filipino workers a year for the next 10 years.
DOLE is also considering sending health care workers to Norway and Finland, the DOLE secretary said.
“We are also increasing deployment in Canada," Roque added.
Roque told GMANews.TV in a separate interview that the negotiations with France began six months ago, while they have been talking to Australian officials for three months now.
He added that the labor department has likewise sent a delegation to Bulgaria and Romania to engage in talks with officials there, while another Philippine delegation will be sent to Canada next month.
During an interview with reporters after the budget briefing, Roque said the planned increase in deployment of workers abroad is “demand-driven."
“It’s demand-driven," said Roque. “Yung pag-increase ng deployment (The increase in deployment) depends on the labor requirement."
Roque said foreign countries are interested in hiring OFWs because of Filipino workers’ abilities.
“Foreign countries have a manpower shortage," said Roque. “Ang preference nila ay Pilipino (They prefer Filipinos) because of technical ability and language ability."
He said the deployment of OFWs abroad is a “given" policy of the state, provided that the safety and protection of Filipino workers are ensured. - Fidel Jimenez, GMANews.TV