Overseas Filipinos have played an invaluable role in supporting the Philippine economy, but at a great cost to the unsung heroes, says Budget Secretary Florencio Abad
|MIGRATION MUST BE A CHOICE. Philippine Budget Secretary Florencio Abad addresses the 3rd annual Global Diaspora Summit 2015 on February 26, 2015. Photo by Troy Agcanas/Commission on Filipinos Overseas
MANILA, Philippines – The decision of Filipinos to migrate should be a choice and not a necessity, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad said at a summit on the welfare of migrant workers on Thursday, February 26.
Addressing the 3rd annual Global Diaspora Summit at the Manila Hotel, Abad said that the government is striving to attain that goal.
“We can introduce hope for our migrant workers. Our goal is to nurture the Philippines so that leaving would be a choice," Abad said at the event hosted by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
He cited the continuing increase in Filipino migrants, jumping to 10.5 million in the last several years.
Explaining the rising figures, Abad said, "It is a simplistic conclusion, but it rings true nonetheless, that more Filipinos have to uproot themselves from the Philippines and set-up shop elsewhere."
Abad said this speaks of the ability of government to provide for its citizens.
“Leaving the country for prospects abroad are driven by necessity….Poverty drove them abroad,” he said.
Abad cited the “invaluable role” of Filipino migrants to the Philippine economy based on government data that their remittances amounted to $26.9 billion in 2014 – or P1.2 trillion.
"By and large, the continuing improvement of the economy has ridden on the shoulders of Filipino migrant workers from every point of the world," Abad said.
Overseas Filipinos, he said, have "buffered us [the Philippines] from the shocks produced by a volatile international market."
But these economic gains have not come cheap, for the so-called "unsung heroes."
"Being separated by families is difficult enough, but they are also being exposed to risks in difficult environments," he said, referring to the thousands of OFWs who remain in countries struggling with civil unrest.
The budget secretary went on to discuss government efforts aligned with the government's goal to improve the quality of life of its citizens.
He noted P3 billion in spending for "capacity programs" for local government units, and P550 million for the Office of the Ombudsman.
As for the economy, Abad said the goal is to create an economic climate that is defined by "robust service" and is "production-driven."
“We are already seeing sure signs that things are improving,” he said.
Moody's credit rating upgrade and improvement on the global competitiveness attest to this, Abad noted. In 5 years, the Philippines has moved up 33 points to number 52 on the global competitiveness index. – Rappler.com