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Posted On: 3 October 2013 10:08 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:13 pm

Call to adopt Philippines model for welfare of expatriates

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Solutions to some of the long-standing concerns of Asian expatriates living in countries across the region would be hard to find unless their home countries adopt systems similar to the one prevalent in the Philippines. This is the general view expressed on social networking sites by many individuals and groups representing South Asian communities. Expressing anger and frustration over various work-related issues, the community members have lamented the absence of a “proper, effective and efficient” system in their home countries to deal with such problems. “What we miss in our country is a system like the one the Philippines has to deal with issues concerning their worldwide expatriate population of around 8mn,” said an Indian expatriate on a regional social network site in the wake of the controversy surrounding the work conditions of Nepalese labourers in Qatar. The authorities in their country, revealed members of the Filipino community, have taken a number of steps to ensure favourable work conditions for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as well as security back home. These include stringent immigration procedures, prompt intervention by embassy officials in different countries and social security benefits for OFWs. According to members of the community, the compulsory monthly premiums they have to pay help them receive not only social security benefits and insurance, but also substantial assistance for construction of homes, medical treatment, educational requirements of children and pension when they return to their country. “This is possible only because of the stringent immigration procedures adopted by the authorities in the Philippines before they clear nationals for overseas employment,” said a visitor to a regional social network site. Besides, Philippine embassy officials are known to frequently intervene in matters pertaining to OFWs, seeking to provide relief. These factors, say expatriates from other Asian countries, give Filipinos employed in foreign lands a sense of security. And such a system is what the South Asian countries, from where a large number of people come to this region for work, require. One person pointed out that the “lack of accountability and responsibility” was evident in the existing system in the some of these South Asian countries. It was high time these nations adopted the Philippines model and introduced social security measures for their overseas citizens, he suggested. Airing similar views, another expatriate said such a system could help achieve better results while dealing with issues of overseas workers, particularly those in low-income groups. Lauding the social security benefits accorded to expatriates by the authorities in the Philippines, he said the presence of such measures has given enormous confidence to OFWs and their families, especially those employed in the GCC states. In view of the recent reports and statements over the work conditions of Nepalese workers, many social network followers felt it was high time some of the Asian embassies “paid more attention to issues concerning their workforce in the region’s countries”. The apparent “indifference” of some of these missions towards expatriate issues has been criticised by social network users.