MANILA (Mabuhay) – Noting that South Korea’s annual quota for foreign workers under its Employment Permit System (EPS) is decided through comprehensive consideration on the rate of illegal stay of workers, among other factors, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Wednesday expressed hope that South Korea will consider increasing the EPS quota for the Philippines because of its good performance in the program.
Other factors being considered in determining the annual quota for foreign workers under Korea’s EPS are labor market trends, level of labor shortages, and economic condition.
“As one of the original six countries that signed on 23 April 2004 a memorandum of agreement with South Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor during my tenure as Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, I have high hopes that our EPS quota will increase because our EPS performance has been consistently good as reported to me,” said Baldoz during a luncheon meeting she tendered in honor of Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Hyuk Lee, Human Resource Development Service Director General Eunhee Jeong, and Consul Jaehoon Lim of the Korean Embassy.
The EPS memorandum of agreement is valid for two years and is renewable. Since 2004, the Philippines and Korea have renewed the agreement three times, twice under Baldoz as POEA administrator.
Technical Education and Skills Development Authority Director General Joel Villanueva, Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for the Office of Asia and Pacific Affairs Minda Calaguian-Cruz, POEA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, Deputy Administrator Liberty Casco, Director Nimfa de Guzman, and Director Alberto Valenciano of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator joined Secretary Baldoz in the luncheon meeting.
“Last year, there was a huge reduction in the number of Filipinos who have illegally stayed in Korea after their EPS stint, from 30.6 percent in 2012 to only 22.7 percent in 2013. This is a good sign that our aggressive strategy of addressing the issue of illegal staying EPS workers in South Korea is bearing fruit,” Baldoz added.
There are an estimated 8,247 Filipino EPS workers illegally staying in South Korea, and Baldoz, at the beginning of the year, said the POEA is determined to reduce the number to achieve an increase in the Philippines’ EPS quota.
As of March 31, 2014, the total number of Filipino workers who have been deployed to Korea is recorded at 35,936, three percent of whom have since returned to their Korean employers after coming home to the Philippines at the end of their EPS stint. Korea calls such returning EPS workers as “committed” or “sincere” workers.
Administrator Cacdac had reported to Baldoz that for 2014, the “ceiling” for new comers to Korea’s manufacturing industry under the EPS is 4,700, or 500 more than the “ceiling” in 2013.
The Philippines’ job seekers’ quota, on the other hand, is 8,000, or 100 more than last year’s quota.
“While most of the 15 sending countries under the EPS have received a reduced quota due to the reduction of the overall quota for EPS of 53,000, the Philippines is an exception and this is, indeed, a good sign,” said Cacdac.
The Korean government adopted the EPS to introduce non-professional foreign workers in its small and medium industries under a transparent and efficient process of selecting, sending, and receiving foreign workers through a government-to-government arrangement.
Baldoz thanked the Korean government through Ambassador Lee, saying that in the last 10 years, the EPS has immensely benefited both countries.
“The EPS has become a global model for ethical, efficient, and transparent recruitment that has benefited South Korea’s SMEs and Filipino workers who have gained a lot of skills and competencies,” she said.
On his part, Ambassador Lee said most Korean companies have grown accustomed to Filipino workers and prefer them for being capable and very well-mannered.
“In fact, it should be us in Korea who should be tendering an appreciation luncheon meeting for you, Secretary Baldoz, because Filipinos have benefited a lot of Korea’s SMEs,” Ambassador Lee said. (MNS)