PALACE  RESIGNED  TO  PINOYS'  DESIRE  TO  WORK  ABROAD

MANILA,
AUGUST 11, 2006 (STAR) By Aurea Calica - Malacañang is resigned to the fact that many Filipinos would prefer to leave the country given the opportunity at present but maintained yesterday the government has been working hard to improve the country’s condition and make the people stay.

"We must never fault any Filipino for wanting to find greener pastures abroad — and we do acknowledge their sacrifices," Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said in a statement.

"But with our good economic indicators and the growing spirit of enterprise among Filipinos, we hope to eventually reverse the trend," Bunye said.

The government has been saying the economy is on a "winning streak" driven by tough presidential decisions and the "payback to the people is starting to flow down in terms of more jobs, infrastructure and basic social services."

President Arroyo said the government was rushing public investments to provide jobs and could now improve its social services using fresh revenues from fiscal reforms.

Three in 10 Filipinos would leave if given the chance, with one in five convinced that the country is "hopeless," according to an independent survey published Thursday.

"This translates into at least 14 million adult Filipinos opting to leave the country and permanently residing abroad for whatever reason," pollster Pulse Asia said.

It said that 37 percent spurned migration and another 32 percent were undecided.

Lack of jobs and poor pay force about 2,000 Filipinos to leave for jobs abroad every month and their welfare is a sensitive political issue for the government.

Up to a tenth of the Philippines population of 85 million live or work abroad. Their salary remittances, of which a record $10.7 billion went through the formal banking system last year, keep the economy afloat amid tepid growth.

Filipino migrant workers have been hailed as modern-day heroes because of their sacrifices and contribution to the nation’s economy.

Pulse Asia, which surveyed a nationwide sample of 1,200 adults in June and July, said the desire to migrate was constant across all socio-economic classes and the proportion wishing to do so had remained "practically unchanged" over the years.

Pulse Asia said few Filipinos believed there was democratic governance in their country, which follows a US-style presidential system of government. — With Delon Porcalla, Jess Diaz


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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