At the onset of this New Year 2011, it looks tempting once again to set up something like a New Year’s Resolution, a favorite yearly routine we humans do as a testament to our desire for self-improvement and/or our obsession with our own inadequacies.
I certainly do not want to succumb to this temptation of having a New Year’s Resolution for the nth time. But somehow, I love the ring of the word “Resolution” and I don’t want to part with this word so easily. There is a sense of hope, a sense of light, a sense of something that makes one feel good about this word.
With this in mind – and given that I have unabashedly anointed myself as a gadfly on OFW Economic Reintegration issues in my last article “Random Thoughts on Where This Advocacy Blog May Lead To”, I will therefore do something different. I will take this opportunity, to draft a proposed OFW Resolution calling and urging our honorable legislators to craft a bill on OFW Economic Reintegration.
Let us just play along and assume that this draft resolution will be signed by all interested or concerned OFWs, individually or by groups. And if by some stroke of good luck or some favorable alignment of the stars, this seemingly wild resolution becomes a reality and gets adopted by our teeming OFWs/groups, we may see how our Honorable Senators and Congressmen react, take action or fail to act on it.
Never mind if this will sound presumptuous, hollow or even absurd to cynics or even to non-cynics. At least, we the much-neglected but just much lip-serviced OFWs may nourish our sense of importance as a sector. It may, somehow, give us a fleeting glimpse of empowerment – something that has eluded us through all these years.
Here our Draft Resolution goes:
RESOLUTION CALLING AND URGING OUR HONORABLE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN TO CRAFT A LEGISLATION PROVIDING FOR A SPECIFIC AND SEPARATE GOVERNMENT BODY TASKED WITH OFW ECONOMIC REINTEGRATION.
WHEREAS, we the OFWs have been a major economic driving force of the Philippine Economy with remittances expected to hit US$18 billion in 2010;
WHEREAS, due to our vital contribution to the economy, we the OFWs, have been hailed as “Modern Day Heroes” and routinely paid lip service by successive government administrations;
WHEREAS, what used to be just a temporary program of Overseas Employment started many years back to tide over difficult economic conditions, has now emerged as a permanent and important fixture and integral part of the Philippine economy;
WHEREAS, in order to take good care of the OFW goose that lays the golden egg, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were eventually created;
WHEREAS, there is encompassing government presence in the sending-off phase and incumbency stage of the OFWs through POEA and the OWWA and that the OFWs are therefore, in theory being well-taken- cared of, at least in the departure and incumbency stages at worksites;
WHEREAS, there is no specific government agency or institution taking care of the returning OFWs economic reintegration needs with such specific compelling issues as savings maximization, investment literacy and entrepreneurship preparation;
WHEREAS, due to the palpable absence of specific government agency taking care of OFW reintegration-related needs, the OFW has been a constant fare game of scammers and all sorts of unscrupulous characters prying on the innocence and trusting nature of many OFWS;
WHEREAS, there has been a very high rate of failure on businesses initiated by returning OFWs and that such high rate of failure can be reduced dramatically if there is government presence, guidance and assistance in the process;
WHEREAS, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is meant to handle labor and employment-related issues and was never meant to handle and nor will ever be competent to handle economic reintegration issues;
WHEREAS, the issue of OFW Economic Reintegration, with its myriad concomitant issues of savings maximization, investment literacy and entrepreneurship preparation are too complex as well as too important to be handled by a generalist government instrumentality like DOLE, POEA or OWWA;
WHEREAS, the DOLE-run initiative of National Reintegration Center for OFWs which started in 2007 cannot and will never be able to effectively handle the economic reintegration issue;
WHEREAS, the inclusion of Economic Reintegration as part of DOLEs National Reintegration Center for OFWs has consigned economic reintegration as an also-run appendage of the labor-oriented DOLE;
WHEREAS, with such a set up the government will never be able to effectively help the returning OFW tap or maximize the value of returning OFWs as a potent force of the economy;
WHEREAS, we strongly feel a separate agency or institution is necessary to handle the myriad and complex issues of economic reintegration;
NOW BE IT RESOLVED, as it is hereby resolved, that we OFWs, individually and collectively call and urge our Honorable Senators and Congressmen to craft legislation for OFW Economic Reintegration Body with the following primary functions:
To serve as catalyst for the productive channeling of OFW savings to viable business and investments and minimize incidences of trial and error on the part of OFWs.
To launch programs on investment literacy and entrepreneurship preparation at worksites abroad to prepare OFWs for eventual economic reintegration;
To aggressively advise and assist OFWs particularly returning ones, on business and investment opportunities in the country and with a specific bias towards investments/businesses available in their own places of origin/domicile/residence;
To establish and facilitate close linkages and networking system, for the benefit of OFWs, with government business regulatory bodies or institutions such as SEC, BODT, DTI and such other bodies that OFWs need to deal with when opening a business. This includes close linkages with Land Bank, DBP, TLRC and such other bodies or agencies that can assist OFWs in terms of sources of credit or technical know-how.
Signed by: All Concerned OFWs and/or Heads of Concerned OFW Groups and Accredited Community Partners
Now, this Resolution is a work-in-process and our dear fellow OFWs are free to disagree, make additions, subtractions or anything that they feel would make this resolution a reflection of what we OFWs feel as responsive to what we really need.
Also, I have to add that this draft Resolution is nothing more than a seed idea for a bill on OFW Economic Reintegration.
Nobody has a monopoly nor a corner on ideas. And as the scientist and Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling says, ”The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas”.
Let us hear what you guys think.