Foreign relations

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


RIGHT now, Filipinos are quite uncomfortable with their territorial and geographical relations with two of their adjoining locators in the Asian region.

Normally, they should have strong diplomatic, industrial, and social ties with Hong Kong and South Korea for having common commercial and industrial interest. But somewhere along the way, in the recent past, there have been a “souring" of relations that needs to be resolved.

The more serious problem is the matter of Hong Kong’s breaking up outright of “friendly” diplomatic relations because of the Philippine’s inability to save the lives of its tourists visiting in Manila on August 23, 2010. The tourists were held hostage by a disgruntled police at the Luneta park. This resulted in the death of eight people.

The Department of Foreign Affairs hopes that there will be “no more stumbling blocks in the return of the good working relationship.”

Likewise, with the problem of excess labor resources here, the Philippines has to look to its neighbors to absorb the country’s excess workers. And so it is that there is an excess of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in South Korea.

The Philippine’s Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) secretary has reported that the number of overstaying Filipino workers in South Korea has somehow been reduced in number from the 30.6 percent in 2012 to 22.7 percent in 2013.

This indicates that our country’s effort to reduce the number of Employment Permit System (EPS) holders is succeeding. This also means, on the other hand, a reduction of the overseas Filipino workers there.

As of March 31, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there are 35,936 OFWs deployed in South Korea. On the other hand, with a steadily declining number of overstaying OFWs, there might be an increase in EPS quota.

This would happen as a result of South Korea’s need for workers to fill up its shortage. Then there would be a rising need for EPS “grantees” or holders.

But there would be legally staying Filipino workers within the legitimate working arrangement of the two Southeast Asian neighbors under a normal diplomatic relations, a diplomatic circumstance not really unlike the situation in Hong Kong, except that the latter was caused by a latent misunderstanding.

In the case of Hong Kong, the disruption of the bilateral ties between that territory and the Philippines stemmed from an unforeseen tourism incident that resulted in the death of eight Hong Kong tourists while being held hostage by a Filipino policeman in a Manila park.

But there really is no diplomatic problem between two countries with common goals jointly resolving a common problem arising from the same cause that needs a joint solution.

Truly, our country’s diplomatic relationship with Hong Kong and South Korea are problems that can be peacefully resolved with human understanding through peaceful ways to achieve the common objective desired.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 30, 2014.

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