Dignity of Work, Human Rights & the Global Economy

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Today, October 15, 2013, we begin the 2nd Philippine Professional Summit with the theme “Empowering Professionals Towards ASEAN Economic Community 2015”. In the plenary session, we shall tackle “Filipino Entrepreneurship – Doing Business in the ASEAN Economic Community” by CEO and President of RFM Corporation Mr. Jose Ma. Concepcion III. The second speaker, Ambassador Donald G. Dee, Co-Champion for Education and Human Resource Development, National Competitiveness Council, talks about “Making Filipino Professionals Competitive with the ASEAN Counterparts”.

In the afternoon, the plenary session 2 starts with the speaker Mr. Nestor V. Tan of Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc. talks about “Empowering Filipino Business Professionals:  ASEAN Integration 2015”

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CEO and President of RFM Corporation Mr. Jose Ma. Concepcion III, Ambassador Donald G. Dee, Co-Champion for Education and Human Resource Development, National Competitiveness Council and Mr. Nestor V. Tan of Banco De Oro Unibank, Inc.

The basic foundation of Empowering Professionals Towards ASEAN Economic Community is our Filipino’s quality of work. Meaning, that Professional work , must be well done. “Work is a fundamental right and good for mankind, a useful good, worthy to man because it’s an appropriate way, for him to give expression to and enhance his human dignity. The church teaches the value of work not only because it is always something that belongs to the person but also because of its nature as something necessary.”

“Work is needed to form and maintain a family, to have a right to property, to contribute to the common good of the human family. In considering the moral implications that the question of work has for social life, the church cannot fail to indicate unemployment as a real social disaster.”

The Key Note speaker, Senate Minority Leader Senator Alan Peter Cayetano

The Key Note speaker, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, new Majority Floor Leader of the Senate,
“Empowering Professionals Towards ASEAN Economic Community 2015”

The Planning Capacity of a society oriented towards justice and the common good and looking to the future is measured also and above all on the basis of the employment, “cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace”.

Mr. Luther Calderon fo KAMPI talks about iRemit Mr. Bansan Choa at Asia CEO Forum

Mr. Luther Calderon fo KAMPI talks about iRemit
Mr. Bansan Choa at Asia CEO Forum

In my previous article, I wrote about the economic benefits and negative social impact particularly to families of Overseas Filipino Workers and Migrants.  In this 2nd part, we will focus on concrete goals, suggestions, solutions and successes that we gathered from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and from our interview Mr. Bansan C. Choa, Chairman and CEO of IRemit and Mr. Luther Z. Calderon, President of KAMPI, (Kabalikat ng Migranteng Pilipino, Inc.).

And, we agreed, that: ” together with the social teachings of the church, justice, right and dignity of work that all sectors concerned, both public and private must get together and address with solutions the issue and concerns of overseas workers and migrants. For this to be achieved, we need to be united with one goal and mission, to transform and open the possibilities for a better life of our Overseas Workers and their families.”

Pope John Paul II, alluding to the motto of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, “opus iustitiae pax” (peace is the fruit of justice) source: COMPENDIUM OF THE SOCIAL DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH

Pope John Paul II, alluding to the motto of the pontificate of Pope Pius XII, “opus iustitiae pax” (peace is the fruit of justice)

The compendium number 289 states “The planning capacity of a society oriented towards the common good and looking to the future is measured also and above all on the basis of the employment prospects that it is able to offer”.

The high level of unemployment, presence of obsolete educational systems and of persistent difficulties in gaining access to professional formation and the job market represent, especially for many young people, a huge obstacle on the road to human and professional fulfillment. The unemployed or underemployed suffer the negative consequences that such a situation creates in personality and they run the risk of being marginalized within society, of becoming victims of social exclusion. In general, it strikes the young people, women, less specialized workers, persons with disabilities, immigrants, ex-convicts, the illiterate, all those who face greater difficulties in the attempt to find their place in the world of employment.

st josemaria may you seek Christ copyThe compendium no.297 states “Immigration can be a resource for development rather than an obstacle to it”.

In the modern world, there are still grave inequalities between rich countries and poor countries, and where advances to communications quickly reduce distances, the immigration of people looking for a better life is on the increase. These people come from less privileged areas and their arrival in developed countries is often perceived as a threat to the high levels of well-being achieved thanks to decades of economic growth. However, immigrants fill a labor need which would otherwise remain unfilled in sectors and territories where local workforce is insufficient or unwilling to engage in the work in question.

Through the interview, we had the honor and pleasure, to receive first-hand, from two distinguished gentlemen, updated information about the contributions and conditions of Filipino Overseas Workers and/ or Migrants.

Mr. Choa and Mr. Calderon, advocates for the well-being of Filipinos Workers abroad, shared the sentiments that the need for accurate but independent, inter-related statistics for OFWs and Migrants are hard, outdated/inaccurate because of several considerations. The government, NGO’s, academic and private institutions which has its own research mechanisms usually comes up with different versions. Reliability becomes a concern.

“OFWs” should be simply called as “Overseas Filipinos”.  Mr. Calderon said that there is a fine line between the OFWs and the Filipino Migrants. He said “Although both are the main source of remittance, Migrants are Filipinos who have settled and/or have job tenure in bigger countries like the USA and Europe, while OFWs have short-termed contracts and are located mostly in the Middle East, Hongkong, Singapore; countries that does not grant permanent visas”.

He added “beside their basic differences and categories e.g., semi-skilled, the bulk of remittances actually come from the more stable Migrants, and they should not be called OFWs but instead be grouped all-together under the Overseas Filipino category.

ofw 2013 new stats

Everybody knows the economic value of OFWs and what have been done left and right to improve their lives. However Mr. Choa said “the economic and social issues about OFWs should be thoroughly discussed. He lamented that “the right solution” has not been done and there are very few organizations like KAMPI, who are attempting to do things properly”.

Filipinos migrate or work in other countries to seek greener pastures. However Migrants and the OFWs especially, are no longer considered by their families as “breadwinners” but as “Mr/Ms Do-It-All and ATM machines”.  They work, make decisions and worry, while the families here do the spending and do not have the initiative to improve further their lives.

On the other hand, the children could not understand why they are left behind, or visited after so many years or seen only through the Internet, receive numerous phone calls, packages, expensive gadgets and money.

The beneficiary becomes materialistic and uses the money on excesses instead of investments or savings. They have the mentality that money is easy and will always come every month.

Regardless of the reasons, both the OFW and families suffer.

Mr. Choa, as a recommendation, strongly said “the OFWs and Migrants should be guided on how to remit and how to spend properly by investing on profitable ventures like small and medium enterprises (SMEs), real estate and many more. The government in return, should give extensive support in the creation of more jobs and of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s). These will enable OFWs to go back to the country since there will alternative sources of livelihood.

The Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) was created by KAMPI during 2003 to help exiting OFWs prepare for their overseas employment through and integrated pre-departure curriculum mandated by law. The early graduates of the PDOS then formed the Kabalikat ng OFW Inc. to provide themselves and fellow OFWs, welfare services, assistance and protection.

But the results were not satisfactory since several OFWs are “mentally absent” during and while attending PDOS, and so, most of them, could not prepare well enough for the Migration reality. They have increasing difficulty in adapting in foreign countries.  As an additional solution, KAMPI created the Post Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS). Arriving OFWs will be given  integral information about their rights, privileges and responsibilities as foreign guest workers and To inform them of the Philippine Consulate or Embassy and  help them adjust and integrate into the host country’s society.

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The DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) created the NATIONAL REINTEGRATION CENTER FOR OFWS (NRCO) so that current, old or returning OFWs and their respective families can avail of a loan.  The program has a budget of P2Billion, but only a few availed of P2-6 Million loan grant for two reasons: lack of awareness and the number of requirements set by Landbank and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

The problem is when an applicant gets frustrated because of the hardship to get all the requirements and then get denied with just one missing and/or rejected requirement. The banks obviously are cautious because the loan is quite large and non-payment would entail losses, resulting to the scrapping of the program.

DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, is another advocate for the welfare of Filipinos working abroad. After the creation of the NATIONAL REINTEGRATION CENTER FOR OFWS (NRCO), she personally urged OFWs in crisis-torn countries to come home and engage in agri-business.

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Secretary Baldoz also issued an administrative order last August 21, 2013 that seeks to transform Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC), or Bahay Kalinga, into “centers of care and service” by bringing on-site the national government’s National Reintegration Center for OFWs.

She then paid tribute to the Overseas Filipino Workers by saying “OFWs are the country’s best faces to the world, the; the best assets we have outside our shores. They are our ambassadors of goodwill and, therefore, they should act and be ready to act as such wherever they are in the world.

DOLE has ordered the crafting of a new orientation module on Filipino values for OFWs, which would be used in the pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) given OFWs, to instill in them such values as love of country and loyalty to it.   The new PDOS module, OFWs, including seafarers, household service workers and low-skilled workers will all be “professional” in the way they dress, talk and conduct themselves.Chairperson, Teresita R. Manzala declared that the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) is extending its services to professionals based overseas as part of its plans and programs for the year 2012.She said that PRCs presence should be extended overseas and urged them to encourage professional organizations/associations to create sub-unit to serve the interests of Filipino Professionals in the ASEAN, Asia-Pacific, North American, European, and Middle Eastern countries.

KAMPI’s plan, together with iRemit, is to “Re-integrate the Work and Family”.  The reintegration will enable the OFW and their respective families to:

1) Understand the advantages/disadvantages of having an OFW family member;

2) Follow a roadmap so that hard earned money will not go to waste and

3) Be aware of the laws, procedures about OFW.

With the re-integration, both the OFW and Families will be instructed and motivated to do “significant and meaningful activities”.

Mr. Calderon made the recommendation to boost the campaign of KAMPI, DOLE, NGO’s and other institutions supporting our OFWs.  He then called on SSS, Philhealth and Pagibig to serve the OFW community well. SHDA or other real estate companies should also help, so that OFWs/Migrants will not be victimized by scams.

Despite the existing and recommended projects, Mr. Calderon and Ms. Lizette R. Sandalo RSW, the Welfare Service Program Direcor of KABALIKAT OFW INC., urges everyone to do their share. KAMPI has already done a massive information campaign, through newspapers, TV and radio. He emphasized that the internet, particularly Facebook and other social networking sites, can and should be use extensively to promote their mission.

They cited Atty. Marlon Valderama’s facebook account called OFW Ako, Matibay Ako; a Question and Answer service for OFW’s who  ask free legal advice.

"E-LAWYERS ONLINE"

“E-LAWYERS ONLINE”

In Compendium number 298, “Institutions in host countries must keep careful watch to prevent the spread of the temptation to exploit foreign laborers, denying them of the temptations to exploit laborers, denying them the same rights enjoyed by nationals, rights that are to be guaranteed to all without discrimination.

“The Right of uniting families should be respected and promoted”

“An economy or economic system consists of the production, distribution or trade, and consumption of limited goods and services by different agents in a given geographical location. The economic agents can be individuals, businesses, organizations, or governments. Transactions occur when two parties agree to the value or price of the transacted good or service, commonly expressed in a certain currency.]

Overseas Filipinos continues to make an impact “Globally”.

Global map of OFW.

With over 9,416,539 documented Overseas Filipinos and a total of $12million remittance for period of Jan – July 2013, the Philippine economy has remained bullish.

It is clear that the Filipino Worker, as an individual is a greatly contributor not only to Philippine Economy but as a major economic agent Globally.  (revise)

Success stories

Filipino workers have proven their versatility. Whether unskilled, a service worker or a professional in the private or public sector, a large number has gained reputation for their exploits.

One success story is Caloy Go. With 14 Seafood City Supermarkets in choice locations in California and Las Vegas, Seafood City Stores are actually one-stop shopping destinations for Filipinos. The stores are set up in such a way that other Filipino establishments such as Chowking, Jollibee, Red Ribbon, PNB Remittance Centers and cargo forwarding outlets are also located within the same plaza or shopping complex. Filipinos not only shop for their groceries at Seafood City Supermarket, they also find restaurants and other establishments to cater to their needs.

Other success stories are two Filipino patriots in San Diego: Tony Olaes and Robert Sanchez Young, second-generation Fil-Ams who have succeeded in the most competitive markets in the world.  Tony Olaez is founder and CEO of his company, ODM  Art, an apparel company that employs 70 talented and innovative designers. He sells their designs faster than they can cope with the orders.

World-class Filipinos British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) journalist Rico Hizon and New York-based fashion designer Josie Natori gained prominence and was awarded last 2009 BPInoy Award by BPI Director Zobel de Ayala himself and Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.

Architect Felino Palafox was only 27 years old, in 1977, when he started working as Senior Architect and Planner for the government of Dubai.  Now he is a  prominent Filipino architect, urban planner and environmentalist and Managing Partner of Palafox Associates, the  only Filipino and the only Southeast Asian architectural firm to first make it into the list of the world’s top 200 architectural firms compiled by the London-based World Architecture magazine.

“Adobong mani po Kabayan, 5 riyals tatlong supot po, bili na kayo”. The story of Emmanuel Rabulan works as a janitor starts at 6 in the morning and wraps up at 2 in the afternoon. Then he cooks roasted peanut and sells it at Batha (Saudi market), for 5 riyals per 3 packs, every afternoon from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m  on weekdays and earlier during  weekends (Thursdays and Fridays).

Emmanuel is a story of a OFWs struggle and success from being scammed by an illegal recruiter, properties lost but he picked up the pieces again, stood up, kept his faith and determination to find his way in this world full of competition just to give his family a bright future.

Another success story is the wife of an OFW  Marivic Valencia and became an entrepreneur by saving hard earn money from raising and selling hogs, chicken vegetables and varieties.

Unlad-Kabayan_logo

Ms.Villalba of the Unlad Kabayan Migrant Services Foundation, citing the example of Ms. Valencia, identified three ways to do this: saving, investing, and going into business.

“Savings, she said, reduce vulnerability and build capital. Investments, on the other hand, enable the migrant worker to plan for productive return and re-integration. Doing so also creates financial value and gives access to productive assets”.

By entrepreneurship, the migrant and his or her family build productive activity and create economic stability.

“The Right of uniting families should be respected and promoted”

“Let us all stick on our goals to help OFWs and Migrants”, Mr. Choa and Mr. Calderon both said. This will placed at the end”.

We totally agree with Mr. Bansan Choa and Mr. Luther Calderon and congratulate them for job well done.

"Where there is no work, there is no dignity" quoted by Pope Francis

“Where there is no work, there is no dignity” quoted by Pope Francis

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