Friday, 14 May 2010

Campaigns in the Philippines fail diaspora

An outsider could easily be forgiven for confusing Philippine elections with a daytime soap opera or worse, a political circus. Among the 85,000 candidates vying for 17,000 positions in today’s voting are a world-champion boxer (Manny Pacquiao), a film star and deposed president (Joseph Estrada) and an archetypal Asian dragon lady legendary for her love of shoes (Imelda Marcos).

Unfortunately, what was not part of the melodrama leading up to today’s voting was any discussion and debate on the future of the Philippines economy – more specifically, its dependence on remittances from Filipino workers overseas.

Up to 11 million Filipinos now work abroad, remitting some $16 billion (Dh59 billion) back home each year. Contrary to the argument that such a remittance economy was temporary and necessary only until a “take-off” point was reached, the grandsons and granddaughters of Filipino overseas workers are now becoming overseas workers themselves. So accustomed are Filipinos to this fact of life that overseas foreign workers are referred to in the local media simply as “OFWs”. Read more

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