Marcos Jr. promises better support for overseas Filipino workers

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
Marcos Jr. promises better support for overseas Filipino workers
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr takes his oath as the 17th president of the Philippines at The National Museum of Fine Arts on June 30, 2022.
Philstar.com / EC Toledo

MANILA, Philippines — While he promised better support and training for overseas Filipino workers, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. also lamented that Filipinos have resorted to taking “menial occupations” abroad.

"Let us give all our OFWs all the advantages we can for them to survive and to thrive,” Marcos said in his speech at the National Museum of HIstory on Thursday.

"We are condemning the future of our race to menial occupations abroad then they are exploited by traffickers.”

He boasted of an education system the Philippines supposedly had that made older generations ready for better job opportunities. 

“There is hope for a comeback. Vice president and soon-to-be Education Secretary Sara Duterte-Carpio will fit that mission to a T,” Marcos said.

Filipino nurses ‘best in the world’ 

Meanwhile, the newly elected president acknowledged one of the issues faced by the country’s healthcare system with the ongoing “nurses exodus.” Along with other healthcare workers, they have reportedly been resigning from hospitals in batches to seek better employment abroad.

“Our nurses are the best in the world. They acquitted themselves with the highest distinction abroad, having suffered even the highest casualties,” Marcos Jr. said. 

According to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which Philstar.com recently obtained through Filipino Nurses United, Saudi Arabia is the top country of destination of Filipino healthcare workers. 

Nurses can earn a little over P27,000 up to P55,500 if their deployment was coursed through by an employment agency and they can earn a minimum of P53,000 if they were employed through a government program.

At home, nurses employed in private hospitals may earn a minimum wage of more or less P12,000 monthly and those in government hospitals are under Salary Grade 15 or over P35,097.

READ: No shortage of nurses but low pay, lack of tenure driving them abroad 

“With the same exemplary dedication at home, they just got by. They are out there because we cannot pay them for the same risk and workload that we have back here,” Marcos Jr. said.

He did not provide specific programs or details, but dangled upcoming Incoming Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople.

“There will be changes starting tomorrow. I am confident because I have an Ople in my cabinet,” Marcos Jr. said.

Ople to lead DMW 

Migrant workers coalition Migrante International in a statement on May 25 said Ople’s appointment was both a “boon and bane” for OFWs. 

They expressed concern because they said Ople was “one of the staunch supporters” of using migration as a means for economic development. They feared the DMW would further "institutionalize" the labor exportation program.

But Ople earlier maintained that “labor migration is here to stay."

FROM INTERAKSYON: Labor export policy under Marcos Sr. regime reviewed after Imee Marcos’ calls for migration 

Ople earlier said that she wanted to begin her term with a review of the systems already in place. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration chief Bernard Olalia said Ople already gave instructions to fast-track the deployment of Filipino workers

“May we remind the incoming DMW Secretary that we are humans not subject of government's express consignment,” Migrante said in a separate statement.

Marcos, in his inaugural speech on Thursday, noted that the Filipino diaspora “flourishes even in the most inhospitable climes where they are valued for their quality.”

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