OFW is a misnomer

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, January 5, 2012


THE phenomenon of Filipinos going abroad to seek employment is a great misnomer in Philippine society. It is a scandal that Filipinos feel forced to go abroad to look for employment.

A Filipino has the basic right to find an appropriate employment in our country in order to make a decent living for himself and his family. Mostly Filipino women go abroad to find additional income for their family. That also is a big anomaly, an exploitation of women who are hired abroad as domestic helpers. This phenomenon of OFWs causes a great harm to our society.
 
I remember after the second world war in Europe, many people decided to migrate to other countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, etc., because there was a great lack of employment opportunities in their own country.
 
My whole family migrated to Canada. Emigration is totally different from going abroad to seek employment. An emigrant chooses to settle down in another country and make that country his own. An OFW is a different phenomenon all together. To solve the problem of OFWs is to prevent it to happen in the first place, because it is an abnormality. The government has the duty not only to provide enough employment but also to provide its citizens the opportunity to make their own contribution to the proper development of the country. The present situation causes a brain drain from the country. Potential developers for this country go abroad and sell their skills and abilities to another country for its development. On top of this all, there are people who call the OFWs our modern heroes because they bring in so much needed dollars and save our ailing economy.
 
Yes, heroes they are, not because they bring in dollars but because they have to make extreme sacrifices in order to save their families from hunger and death.
 
Some time ago, my own son, who is a graduate in agriculture and who couldn’t find a job here, decided to go abroad. He went to Saudi Arabia to be a lifeguard in a beach resort. I could not prevent him from going there because he is already mature enough, but I told him I didn’t like the idea and didn’t agree with him. Ironically, a short time after he left, tropical storm Sendong struck our City. He could have assisted in the rescue operations here.
 
It is fortunate that we now have President Aquino. According to the latest surveys, majority of the Filipino people give him a favorable rating and are hopeful for the year 2012.
 
Under the former president, who was an economist by profession, the economy of our country has deteriorated tremendously.
 
Our President today, with his economic advisers, is on the right track as far as economic planning is concerned. He has allocated a big amount in the national budget for new infrastructure projects. This will provide a lot of employment opportunities to the ordinary people.
 
Noynoy is serious in his anti-corruption drive. Before it was 90 percent corruption and 10 percent projects.
 
In our city, the so-called farm-to-market roads reached only the market but hardly ever the farm. I saw Mayor Emano on the Karen Davila ANC morning show. In the interview, he showed himself as a downright hypocrite, full of excuses for the total failure of his dealing with tropical storm Sendong that hit Cagayan de Oro.
 
Our hope is that the President will take action against him. For too long he has fooled the people of Cagayan de Oro.
 
I would like to make an appeal again on the Catholic Church in the Philippines to proclaim more openly the social doctrine of the Church, which for too long has remained the best-kept secret for the Filipino people.   
 
The Philippines, the only Christian nation in Asia, is also the nation in Asia that has produced the highest number of OFWs, leaving the social doctrine of the Church just a trashy document. The social encyclicals, and more so the encyclical Caritas in Veritate, reminds us that economics is a branch of ethics.
 
Our economic managers in the past, including GMA, were masters in economic theory. They should have been told to make a step back from their economics and see the bigger thing, society as a whole. They should explore how social equality could be achieved, the wealth of our nation could be distributed more equally with in mind a clear vision of the human being and the value of the family.
 
Politicians and businessmen who cannot look beyond their own selfish interest and see the needs of their fellow citizens, especially the poor and the exploited among them, are to be blamed for the deplorable economic state of our nation.
 
There is something fundamentally wrong and unchristian in our governance, where OFWs are brought home in a coffin and we even have an OFW in her own country, like in the case of that maid of Lucio Tan’s brother who was kept a prisoner in his house. But also where lawmakers try to change the Constitution and allow foreign companies to own land in this country where there are thousands of Filipinos who are squatters in their own country.
 
President Aquino should make good for all these failures of the past administration by pursuing his new economic program for 2012.
 
(For comments, e-mail arnvv@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 06, 2012.

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