A performance of the traditional Kalinga dance during the celebration of the 117th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence in Doha, on Friday.
By Peter Alagos
The Philippine government is preparing for the eventual return of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), Ambassador Wilfredo Santos said during the celebration of the 117th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence yesterday in Doha.
“While there may not be enough opportunities now in the Philippines, in the future there will be; and we look forward to the day when overseas employment is no longer something that Filipinos will have to consider,” he told Gulf Times.
“But in the meantime, the Philippine government is committed to protecting the rights of OFWs and promoting their welfare, and we will do everything possible to assist them in any way, whether they are in distress or not.”
In its 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos, the Philippine Statistics Authority estimated that there are 2.3mn OFWs across the world.
While the Philippine government has intensified efforts to provide domestic job opportunities, it is still supportive of OFWs, the envoy said.
“The government’s role is to create opportunities that are conducive for employment to prevent Filipinos from leaving the country and find work elsewhere. But at this point, since it is advantageous for them to go abroad and seek gainful employment, the government is still supportive through the assistance it extends to OFWs through the embassies and consulates,” the ambassador explained.
In his speech at the event, Santos stressed that “Being an OFW is, and should not be, a long-term arrangement for Filipinos.”
The ambassador added that living abroad and being separated from loved ones poses “various social implications and problems that threaten bonds within the family”.
“As the Philippine government highly values the role of the Filipino family as the foundation of our nation, we look forward to the day when every Filipino will no longer have to go overseas to look for greener pastures and part with their families.
“In the meantime, though, the Philippine embassy remains committed to protecting their rights and looking after the welfare of OFWs in Qatar, in collaboration with our partners from the host government,” Santos said.
The ambassador said the embassy, in co-ordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Qatar, partner agencies in the Philippine government, and civil society, is providing capacity building and financial education programmes to further empower OFWs.
“These programmes are aimed at teaching OFWs to manage their earnings wisely and invest in their own businesses back home, and transform them into active players in the Philippine economy,” Santos said.
He also underscored the growing presence of OFWs in Qatar, currently estimated at 200,000, and the role they would play in Qatar’s efforts to attain economic progress.
“As the road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup nears, we are prepared to face the challenges that go with the burgeoning population of qualified Filipino workers eager to contribute to Qatar’s economic and infrastructure development,” Santos added.
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