Archive for the ‘Gaza’ Category

Fewer local jobs, rising numbers of OFW’s & fishermen plucked from stormy sea

January 22, 2009


As a consequence of the fall of the electronic industry, this is the number workers who lost their job in the major economic zone in Laguna according to reports that reached the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP.) The huge lay-offs put the pressure on workers to leave the country and seek employment abroad. It is consistent with the National Statistics Office (NSO) data showing that Philippine exports fell 11.9 percent to $3.49 billion in November, the second straight month of double-digit loss following a downward slide by 14.8 percent in October.

It is said the country lost $1.18 billion in exports, mostly from electronics ($960 million) in October to November 2008.

In a related development, the closing of Intel’s Philippine testing and assembly plant in Cavite this year will displace an additional 1,800 workers (cut down from 3,000 in November 2008) after 20 years of operation.


According to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW’s) employed abroad totaled to 1,376,823 last year. The number exceeded the 2007 number by about 300,000. Employment abroad has steadily increased from from 867,969 in 2003, 933,588 in 2004, 1,077,623 in 2007 and 1,376,823 in 2008. This indicates the continuing dependence of RP for jobs abroad to provide employment to its citizens.


The number of fishermen rescued in the stormy seas of Sabina Shoal in Kalayaan Group of Islands in January 16, 2009. All crew members of M/B Lester, they were safely brought to Puerto Princesa, Palawan after being marooned in turbulent waters for 10 hours.

P330 billion

With the goal of creating 3 million jobs and build infrastructures this year, Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo signed an additional 10% in the stimulus package bringing the budget to P330,000. The 3 million jobs represent a fourth of the 12 million presently unemployed in the country. It is doubtful if this amount is enough to offset the impact of the economic downturn. A 2009 national budget of P1.415 trillion was ratified by the congress.


This is number of evacuees from Gaza who arrived in Manila on January 21, 2009. Another 20 is about to arrive after they crossed the Gaza-Israel border on their way to Amman, Jordan. Earlier 16 Filipinos returned to escape the bloody strife between the Israelis and Palestinians which killed more than 1,000 people in three weeks. (Photo Credit: Ian Riley; Diong)=0=


In war-battered Gaza, Filipinos mull on the price of working abroad

January 11, 2009

With no end in sight, the red-hot Israel-Palestinian conflict completes its second week on January 11, 2009 with nearly 900 reported dead and many more wounded, about half of them are innocent non-combatants of war. Regardless of which side we may be in the decades-long hostilities, the clear message is that racial intolerance, religious bigotry, and territorial disputes don’t bring any good.

The duplicity in the exercise of diplomacy, the use of terrorism, and the rejection of a two-state solution by hardliners remain as huge stumbling blocks in bringing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. The interference of countries that benefit from an unstable Middle East is partly to blame.

Civilians living in the Gaza Strip are in a crossfire that disrupts their lives and threatens their survival. In the bloody exchanges of a protracted cycle of violence, the innocents bear undeserved suffering. Among them are workers and migrants from the Philippines who come to this troubled part of the world mainly for economic reasons.

We can only sympathize with our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who put their lives on line to seek ways to survive and help their families back home. We can only ask for the cessation of the killings—an immediate ceasefire which is unheaded at this time.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA,) 16 Filipinos have left the war-torn area and arrived in Manila. Of the 121 still left in Gaza, 69 expressed their desire to evacuate, but the fierce fighting prevents them to do so. It is uncertain if this number includes the illegal Filipinos workers who take risky jobs in the shadows.

This brings us to the problem of our government which sorely lags behind in helping the people to be self-sufficient back home. If jobs and economic opportunities exist in the country, then there are few reasons for our kababayans to insist working in dangerous places like the Middle East. The cost to pay for family separations, isolation, and loneliness is incalculable. It’s sad that our cash-strapped government is in a losing policy of sending Filipinos abroad for the money they’ll earn for the nation’s economy. With no sign of stopping, our workers continue to suffer on their own, at times trapped in harm’s way.

Just to land a job, no matter how menial, has been a source of hope and pride among poor Filipinos who ignore the risks of travel outside the country. Yet, this is the reality of our society faces. Adding to the 10 million Filipinos already deployed abroad, a restless stream still wants to leave for the money.

The government must do better than what our officials think is good enough. There will be a season that host countries won’t justly pay for the services of Filipinos. To keep the country economically alive there’ll be a time when going abroad will be one of our most dreaded options. (Photo Credits: Aryty; Rusty Stewart x 7 photos) =0=


Israeli air strikes leave 200+ dead in Gaza Strip

December 27, 2008

As Pope Benedict XVI calls for renunciation of violence during the holy season of Christmas, Israelis and Palestinians are on a bloody confrontation again in the Gaza Strip leaving at least 200 dead and injuring about 400 more. This is the result of heavy air strikes conducted by Israeli troops against militant Palestinian targets in Hamas-dominated territory a week after a 6-month ceasefire truce expired.

The resumption of bombings and killings on Saturday, December 27, 2008, is supposed to be Israel’s retaliation to months of Hamas’ mortar fires and indiscriminate rocket launches which terrorize about ¼ million Israelis who live in the area.

Hamas infrastructures and installations had been destroyed and many security officers were killed or hurt. Gaza residents had been on the state of panic as the death toll rose and the wounded victims flooded hospitals and clinics.

“The offensive sparked angry protests throughout the Arab world, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, the U.N. secretary-general and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation.”—; AP (12/28/08 Barzak, Brahim)

Hamas, the radical group considered by Israel as a terrorist organization, called for revenge, but Isreali military authorities had been firm in their stance. In spite of the call for calm, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed to widen the military offensive if needed. Israel did not set a time-line on when the air strikes would end.

The long-standing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians has taxed peace-makers for decades, but a solution has been consistently elusive. Extremist Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East who support the Palestinians call for the annihilation of the State of Israel. (Photo Credits: AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AFP; AP/ Mohammed Zastari) =0=