Overseas Filipino investors

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo reiterated her call to Filipinos living in Japan to “prove our mettle as a nation and as a people and start our economic rebirth wherever we are by thinking Filipino, buying Filipino and investing Filipino.” This she said on September 15 during a gathering with representatives ofph142.jpg Filipino organizations as part of her working visit here.

The call was timely as the number of overseas Filipino workers in Japan rose by 21 percent in the first half of the year, the largest increase in overseas deployment to one country, the Department of Labor and Employment said. This increase came amid calls by some sectors of Japanese society for an “open door policy” on foreign workers to fill the gaps left by Japan’s aging population.

Arroyo stressed that the Philippine economy would remain heavily dependent on the 8 billion dollars that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remit home yearly, adding that this increased the country’s GNP by 25% during the first half of 2001. On the other hand, she promised to campaign for the ratification of the 1999 UN Convention on the Protection of Rights of Migrant Workers and their families and the adoption of a UN resolution for the protection of female migrant workers. The President said she would also work for the passage of a bill allowing overseas Filipinos to vote.

Arroyo preferred to call OFWs as “overseas Filipino investors” instead, saying that the money that OFIs send home “invigorates the economy” by financing education, business start-ups, construction activities as well as other kinds of economic development.

As 40 percent of the Philippine population is currently mired in poverty compared to only about 30 percent four years ago, at no other time is this call more relevant. While Filipinos back home jump ship at the slightest opportunity, they should never forget that working abroad is a God-given gift. The appropriate response is to share this gift back home through investments that can uplift the quality of Filipino life.

With more than 7 million Filipinos abroad at any given time, this potential is staggering. It should not matter if others do their share, what counts is whether you have done yours.