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July 1998, Volume 5, Number 7

Philippines: Deployment, Vietnamese

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported in June 1998 that 559,227 Filipinos were sent abroad in 1997, including 160,302 or 29 percent to Saudi Arabia; followed by Hong Kong, 78,513 or 14 percent; Taiwan, 72,747 or 13 percent; and Japan, 33,226 or six percent. Another 188,469 were sent to foreign jobs on ships in 1997.

The Philippines is considered to have the most developed system for sending workers overseas. The system has several components. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration charges migrants going overseas $25 each and deposits some of this fee into a fund to cover the cost of emergency repatriation. The Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 requires the creation of a P100-million fund to cover repatriation expenses of displaced migrants, but the fund has not yet been created.

Both migrants and their employers contribute to a welfare fund that helps returning migrants to reintegrate, but experience suggests that many returned migrants experience long spells of unemployment, exhaust their savings and then migrate again.

Philippine President Fidel Ramos said on June 2, that he has issued an order allowing Vietnamese asylum-seekers rejected by Western countries to seek permanent residency in the Philippines. About 1,500 Vietnamese asylum-seekers now live in the Philippines, a third of them in a resettlement area called "Vietville" on southwestern Palawan Island. More than 40,000 boat people who fled to the Philippines after the Communist takeover of South Vietnam were resettled in the US and other countries.

"Philippines clears way for Vietnamese integration," Reuters, June 2, 1998.