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Monday, December 15, 2008

Retrogression Update: Era of overseas migrant workers ending

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December 14, 2008 20:58:00
Vincent Cabreza
Philippine Daily Inquirer

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines--An economic and political analyst has said the Philippines has reached the end of an era of overseas workers’ migration in light of the world economic breakdown.

A feared contraction in the United States public health sector due to an American recession awaited Filipino nursing graduates, said University of the Philippines professor Walden Bello on Friday.
Bello focused on the overseas migrant industry during a forum on the global financial crisis at the University of Baguio here on Friday.

He said universities that jumped on the bandwagon during the peak of a foreign demand for Filipino nurses should start reviewing their curriculum.

"It is time to change your economic calculations. If we do not warn citizens, they will continue to train for overseas work," he said.

No one has been telling parents the truth, he said.

He warned parents about reports coming from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that forecast a rosier Philippine economy in 2010.

He called them political, not economic forecasts.

Bello said parents should realize that the influence of WB and the IMF had diminished after the international banking sector became affected by the economic crisis.

Parents should also beware the massive drop in oil prices this month.

This meant that fewer countries have been buying the commodity, even during winter when gasoline was usually in peak demand, he said.

Bello said: "If the economy is contracting, then demand is contracting. Oil drop shows how fast the economies are contracting… It may be good, but I don't like the trade-off. Prices are dropping but job loss is rising."

"Would you prefer low prices of oil and commodities and a high unemployment rate or high prices and low unemployment, so people can still buy?" he asked.

He said the Philippine government's commitment to globalization was partly to blame.

In a forum attended by UB political science students here, Bello said the Philippines failed to protect vital industries like agriculture when it prioritized export industries.

"Hindi sila naniwala (They did not believe the objections to globalization). Not [former President Fidel] Ramos. Not [former President Joseph] Estrada. Not Gloria (Ms Arroyo). Not [the late former President Ferdinand] Marcos. Not [former President Corazon] Aquino," he said.

He said the consequent collapse of the financial system forced many countries to nationalize.

Bello said this meant that governments would be forced to strengthen their local economies and domestic markets, with "destination economies (the countries which import from the Philippines)" stopping from their purchases of products.

Agriculture and a domestic-market oriented manufacturing sector would rise out of the crisis, he said.

Gold would be a safe commodity and mining could finally have a role in domestic development, unlike previous years when this industry produced to satisfy an export market, Bello said.

"Listen to your relatives [abroad, particularly in the US]. They know what is happening. They are on ground zero," he said.


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