Ike Señeres .
I THINK that it was about thirty years ago when the national government was in a denial stage, when it was openly and vehemently saying that we do not export labor, and that we do not trade in human capital. Well, that seems to be a long gone era in terms of our national government policies, because as it is now, the national government is openly supporting, and is in fact, encouraging the departure of our own citizens to go out and work abroad. Every year, the government reports the value of dollar remittances from abroad, as if it is its own achievement, and as if these are proceeds from our export earnings. In other words, the national government has now gone beyond the denial stage, and the bottom line is, our country is now trading in human capital or warm bodies, as if we do not know that yet.
It is said that Spain might have been the first country to deploy their citizens abroad, given the fact that their economy was devastated after their civil war. That did not lost long however, because the deployment eventually slowed down and then it ended at some point. The same thing happened in Japan, they allowed their citizens to go abroad to work after their economy was devastated by World War II, but then it also eventually slowed down, and it ended too. The common denominator in both cases is that there was a devastating war, and then there was the ending of foreign deployment. In the case of the Philippines, there was really no massive deployment after World War II, but about thirty years after that, Filipinos have been going out of the country to work, and it has not stopped up to now.
For whatever it is worth, I heard rumours that some government agencies might be aware that there is a large number of Filipinos who meet unfortunate faiths abroad, but they are not spreading the news out of fear that the volume of deployment might go down, thus also bringing down the amount of dollar remittances that are going back into the country. Of course it may not be possible for us to know the truth behind these rumours, but in the meantime, we could ask what the government is planning to do, whether or not it is finally going to put an end to foreign deployment, or whether it is just going to allow it to continue without an end in sight, as if it is already part of our lives, and as if it is going to stay with us forever. Is there really a forever? It seems that in the case of foreign deployment, there is a forever.
Just to be clear about it, the issue here is not to deploy Filipino citizens abroad or not. The issue here is whether to deploy those who are vulnerable or not, regardless of whether it will lower the volume of dollar remittances or not. In this regard, we should follow the example of Singapore, wherein they have discouraged the deployment of domestic helpers, but have tolerated the deployment of professionals. Mind you the operative word here is “tolerated”. And that is because they are just allowing it, and is not even encouraging it. In other words, they would really prefer that their citizens would not go, but they would let them go if they are professionals, meaning that they would not be vulnerable. The other angle here is that if they are professionals, they would be in a better position to bring their families.
In a manner of speaking, it could be said that the policy of Singapore about domestic helpers is really moot and academic, because there appears to be not too many domestic helpers among them, because more of their citizens would tend to be professionals instead. In other words, there is hardly any need for them to ban the deployment of domestic helpers, because there are hardly any among them. That is definitely not the case in the Philippines, because there would tend to be more domestic helpers here, more than professionals perhaps. Therefore, in the case of Singapore, there was no longer any need to stop the deployment of their citizens, because only the professionals are going out anyway, and they are not vulnerable when they go out. It seems that the bottom line here is the strength of our economy, because not even our professionals would want to go out if the conditions here are better.
Obviously, it would be a good idea to ban the deployment of Filipino domestic helpers abroad in order to prevent them from getting into vulnerable conditions, but that idea would only be really good if they could get jobs here that would prevent them from going out. In theory, the government could set a deadline in the future wherein the deployment of domestic helpers could stop, but I have no doubt in my mind that that could only happen if the economy would be strengthened to a point where there would be enough jobs here for everybody, so that nobody would even think of going out, at least under normal circumstances. “It’s the economy, stupid” one might say, and surely, we would be stupid not to know that. Certainly, Singapore did the opposite of being stupid, because they strengthened their economy for the good of their society.