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Pinoy Abroad

The Sun, HK: RP to cash in on Macau's boom

November 16, 2007 4:40pm
HONG KONG - The Philippines is looking into gaining a firmer foothold on Macau's labor market ahead of the expected setting up of its consulate in the enclave, and the projected doubling in the number of Filipino workers there.

This was revealed by fomer labor attache and now director at the Department of Labor Employment Bernardino Julve, during a short official visit to Hong Kong and Macau recently. "We are taking a more pro-active stance ahead of the establishment of the Macau Consulate and our overseas labor office there," said Julve.

This means, according to him, developing contacts within the Macau government, and projecting an image of the Philippines as a prime source of imported labor.

As an example, he said the government can tap the help of former tourism secretary Narzalina Lim, who now sits as an adviser to Macau's tourism board, to increase the Philippines' labor quota.

"The quota (for each labor-exporting country) may vary according to how well you project yourself through p.r. (public relations)," he said.

Julve said he expects the Macau Consulate to be set up anytime soon, in line with a recent pledge made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo in a letter to his labor counterpart, Arturo Brion.

The letter said provisions would be made for setting up the Consulate before the end of this year, but Julve said it will most likely be done early next year at the earliest as there has yet been no discernible movement from DFA toward this end.

"At the very least, they should have already asked for an accreditation from Beijing," he said.

Julve acknowledged that Macau has been exerting pressure on the Philippine government to abide by a promise it made as early as 2000 to set up a foreign mission in the enclave.

Matters came to a head early this year when Macau sent a note verbale to Manila, asking for a clarification of the status of the labor extension office it had set up there five years ago, and for which no accreditation had been sought from Beijing.

Most recently, the pressure was highlighted when Macau refused to grant a visa to a labor staff member being proposed to be cross-posted there from Manila.

With the pressure intensifying amid an expected surge in the number of hirings in Macau, the Philippines appears to have finally decided to abide by the promise it made five years ago.

And for good reason, according to Julve.

Citing figures quoted by a group that recently sent a petition to Malacanang asking for the Macau Consulate to be set up, Julve said the number of Filipinos expected to flock to the enclave for work will double to 22,000 from the year's end figure of 11,000.

As of August this year, he said the figure cited was already 8,844. - The Sun- HK