‘Does PH want to be world’s employment agency?’ | Global News

‘Does PH want to be world’s employment agency?’

By: - Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 11:49 AM May 01, 2015

Senator Sonny Angara. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Senator Sonny Angara. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Amid the steady rise in violations of migrant rights, Senator Sonny Angara urged the government on Friday to provide local employment programs and higher-paying jobs that would encourage Filipinos to stay and work in the country.

“The cost of Filipinos working overseas is higher than we think. Yes, we can talk about their remittances that spur our economy but do we really want to become the world’s employment agency?” asked Angara, acting chairman of the committee on labor, employment and human resources development.


“If we ask most of our countrymen, I think they would definitely still prefer to stay at home but with higher-paying jobs,” he said.


According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Angara said, victims of human trafficking totaled 1,135 in 2013 while the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) facing death penalty cases, most of which are drug-related, has reached a total of 88 as of March this year.

READ: Palace: Gov’t helping 88 Filipinos on death row

He said an average of 1,600 illegal recruitment cases were also handled by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from 2007 to 2011, while the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) handled an average of more than 50,000 cases on-site annually from 2009 to 2013.

“Our labor force grows an addition of almost one million every year, and this number cannot be absorbed by available jobs here in the country, forcing Filipinos to seek better-paying jobs abroad to support their families even with the risk of facing abuse and exploitation,” Angara said.

While commending the Aquino administration for developing reintegration programs that would allow returning OFWs to use their earnings for enterprise development, he said, providing  higher-paying  jobs in the country is that what would really make “migration be a matter of choice and not a necessity.”

“We are pushing for the expansion of the Public Employment Services Office (PESO) to serve as job placement agencies in provinces and municipalities to help people find work amidst reports that it takes up to two years for new graduates to get work,” Angara said.


The senator also pressed for the passage of the Apprenticeship Training Act to provide young Filipinos with skills and access to employment, noting that a majority of apprentices are hired by the companies where they have their apprenticeship.

“Aside from job-generating programs, one way of ensuring higher wages is by amending our outdated tax system that overburdens our middle-income workers and make it more progressive and equitable—one that promotes upward mobility and a just society,” he said.

Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on ways and means, is the author of the recently enacted law raising the tax exemption cap on 13th month pay and other workers’ benefits.

READ: Higher tax exemption cap on bonuses now a law

With the current system, which remained unchanged since 1997, the senator pointed out that an upper middle-income earner who makes around P60,000 a month is already at the top tax bracket and is paying the same tax rate as the millionaires and billionaires in the Philippines.

Tax brackets, he said, should be adjusted to keep up with inflation and to make them more sensitive to current salaries of Filipinos.

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“If we adjust the brackets, the tax rates of the working middle class will decrease and will result [in] a higher take-home pay that will hopefully bring our OFWs back home. This could incentivize our labor force to work and invest in our country, and more importantly, to be with their families,” said Angara. IDL

TAGS: Department of Foreign Affairs, DFA, diaspora, jobs, Legislation, migrant workers, ofws, Overseas Filipino workers, Sonny Angara, tax exemption

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