From now on, please make no mistake about it—that outward migration from the Philippines does not only mean labor migration.
When government releases statistics on the number Philippine-born Filipinos residing or working overseas, don’t just think of most of your Filipino friends in, say, Dubai who are almost all migrant workers.
Truth is, the number of permanent Filipino migrants outweighs that of temporary migrants, who include overseas workers.
In 2011, the number of permanent migrants hit 4.86 million or 47 per ent of the total 10.44 million Filipinos born in the Philippines but are working or residing abroad, while temporary migrants, including those who are globally known as overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), reached only 43 per ent or 4.51 million.
This according to the aggregate data taken from concerned government agencies—Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)—pointing out also that irregular migrants comprised only 10 percent or 1.07 million of the total.
While the difference between permanent and temporary migrants is a small number, Vera Files, a Manila-based nonprofit media entity that looks deeper into issues otherwise neglected by the mainstream media, said this is a significant margin.
This clearly shows that the Philippines “has gone beyond labor migration”, Vera Files stressed in a February 14 story, titled ‘Dissecting the overseas Filipino population’, posted on verafiles.org.
It stressed that all the 10.44 million Filipinos overseas remitted a total of $21.6 billion in 2012, citing statistics from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).
“This means that if 100 Filipinos have completed their two-year contracts, and 150 others recently arrived on new contracts, while 10 others have overstayed their visas, the estimate would give a running number of Filipinos in a country at any given time,” Vera Files explained.
It based its analysis on the definitions of each group of Philippine-born Filipinos who are working or residing overseas.
It said, for instance, that permanent migrants include emigrants, dual citizens or legal permanent residents abroad who do not depend on work contracts to be able to stay where they are, as they have families or spouses living legally in these host-countries.
Those who are abroad because of employment, on the other hand, are called temporary migrants and are, therefore, expected to return to their native Philippines once their contracts expire.
Most of these migrants fall under the category of OFWs. The rest are students, trainees, entrepreneurs, businessmen—and their dependents—who stay abroad for at least six months.
The undocumented Filipinos staying abroad, in the meantime, are being referred to as irregular migrants.
POEA and its attached agency, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA), regulate the recruitment and deployment of OFWs, and provide welfare support for everyone, while scholars and permanent migrants, including their spouses and dependents, register with the CFO prior to departure.
“Many leave the country other than for reasons of work,” Vera Files said. “The reasons range from marriage migration to family reunification, from educational to business opportunities to professional advancement.”
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