SALAYSAY: Rehired land-based OFWs boost worker deployment in last 5 years

MANILA—CONTRACTS for overseas work over a five-year period benefited more rehired land-based overseas Filipino workers, government data reveal.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) five-year data also revealed that last year, the number of re-hired land-based OFWs reached a five-year high of more than half-a-million (597,426) from less than that in 2004 (419,505).

The data further shows that on average, rehired land-based migrant workers make up nearly 46 percent of the Philippine total of deployed land- and sea-based OFWs.

POEA’s 2008 Statistical Compendium, uploaded on its website only last month, said the country deployed last year a record 1.2 million OFWs (see Table 1).

Rehired land-based OFWs are those who returned to the country and were deployed overseas on new contracts.

Four years ago, their share in the total 933,566 deployed overseas was only at nearly 45 percent (419,505).

Meanwhile, newhire land-based OFWs consistently make up 30 percent of annual OFW deployment (see Table 2).

Newhire workers deployed means the POEA has provided new jobs for would-be overseas workers, as securing jobs for overseas employment is part of the Macapagal-Arroyo government’s strategy to generate one million new jobs for Filipinos every year since 2004.

The POEA deployed 284,912 newhire land-based OFWs in 2004. It grew by 32 percent to 376,973 last year.

The number of seafarers was decreasing in the last two years, even as the figure reached a high of 274,497 in 2006.

On a five-year average, deployed seafarers make up 24.27 percent of total OFW deployment.

Rehire land-based OFWs also make up the most number of overseas work contracts processed by the POEA in 2006 to 2008, the agency’s publicized data revealed.

Compared to the overseas work contracts processed by the POEA for newhire land-based OFWs and seafarers, rehires got almost all of the processed work contracts.

All processed work contracts for rehires were secured nearly a hundred percent (96.09%) or 470,390 of the total 489,528 contracts three years ago. It dipped by three percent by 2007 but swung back up to nearly 98 percent last year (or 597,426 of 610,561 work contracts).

The rehires seem to have elbowed out the newhires from the job market in 2006 as only 81.97 percent of the latter got contracts from the 387,533 new overseas work contracts made available for them that year. However, contracts for newhires last year reached a higher processing approval, having nearly 95 percent of the total 394,977 new work contracts secured by newhires.

Many work contracts for seafarers, however, remain vacant. Some 80,832 seafarers’ work contracts were unfilled in 2006, and the figures reached 123,054 the year after and to 197,143 last year (see Table 3).

Still, the country supplies the most number of merchant marine fleet in the world with a quarter of the global total.

The POEA said it has processed more than 1.2 million work contracts for land- and sea-based jobs in 2006. The number rose by just above a hundred thousand in 2007 but nearly 1.5 million work contracts last year.

Still, there were contracts that were not supplied with workers: 162,823 in 2006, 228,254 in 2007; and, 228,282 in 2008.

Year-on-year growth rates for deployment reached their highest in 2008 for both newhire and rehired land-based OFWs (20.34 and 20.01, respectively), as a negative growth rate for seafarers’ deployment is now on its second straight year.

Prior to POEA’s release of its annual statistical compendium last month, some recruitment agency leaders were reported by the media as displeased at the long time of the compendium’s release: nine months coming into the new year.

Last January, when POEA administrator Jennifer Manalili gave an unofficial 2008 deployment total of 1,376,823, recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani was quoted as saying that the rise of the total number of deployed OFWs “was unheard of in the history of OFW deployment”.

In a meeting last June at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, POEA middle-level officials said the agency revalidated all work contracts processed and workers deployed to come up with the final count of 1,236,013 deployed land- and sea-based OFWs for 2008.#