Group says migration increased after ‘Sendong’, ‘Pablo’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/08 August) – Two typhoons that hit Mindanao in recent years have driven more people to seek work abroad, a group said in a summit here Thursday.

According to a framework document presented by the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc. during the Mindanao Summit on Migration, Environment, Peace and Development, typhoons Sendong and Pablo were among the reasons migrant workers left Mindanao to work in other countries.

Inorisa Sialana Elento, MMCEAI executive director, said in an interview Thursday that recruiters have been approaching victims of the two typhoons in evacuation centers as potential migrant workers.

Elento said there were also reports of human trafficking and illegal recruitment in the centers.

More disturbing, she said, was that there were instances of recruitment by relatives of the evacuees themselves.

She said that desperation may have driven evacuees to seek employment elsewhere.

“After Pablo, with their houses destroyed, people have had to start from scratch,” Elento said.

According to the document, the top employers of overseas Filipino workers were Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong, with Singapore and Malaysia increasingly becoming popular destinations.

Elento said their data came from the Internally Displaced Monitoring Center (IDMC).

She said most migrant workers were women, noting that it was no longer an “Industrial Age” where skilled workers were in demand abroad.

“It is now the domestic workers making it big abroad,” she said.

The global financial crisis in the latter part of the previous decade contributed to the decline in demand for skilled workers, Elento said, with companies abroad beginning to prefer hiring from their own labor force.

Rosena Sanchez, MMCEAI chair, said Pablo victims cited dire conditions in evacuation camps and relocation areas as among the reasons they moved to another country to find work.

She said some of these workers have been repatriated to the Philippines in the wake of reports of abuse by their employers.

But some migrant workers were also reported to have gone back abroad.

“It has been a challenge monitoring workers who were brought back to the country who go back abroad despite the abuse,” Sanchez said.

“This is a challenge to the government to create jobs, especially for workers who work in war-torn countries,” she added.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Acting Regional Director Eduardo Bellido did not link the occurrence of the two typhoons to the increasing number of migrant workers.

But he said that the workers from the region in conflict areas such as Libya comprised mostly of skilled workers.

He said the agency has encouraged the workers to come home through its free repatriation program and return only when the situation in the country normalizes.

“We have advised them to register with the government,” he said.

He added they are monitoring the Filipino nationals who are based in Gaza, where hundreds have died in new hostilities between Israeli and Palestinian forces. (MindaNews)