Overstaying OFWs imperil jobs deal in South Korea, says Pampanga guv
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — Gov. Dennis Pineda on Wednesday appealed to several Pampanga residents to end their illegal stay in South Korea so as not to jeopardize jobs under the Foreign Seasonal Workers Program (FSWP) between Pampanga and Jeollanam provinces.
“I earnestly ask our provincemates who have gone on TNT [tago nang tago/hiding from authorities] to go back home. Those who have been interviewed for farm jobs in South Korea may not be able to leave [because Pampanga might be banned from sending workers due to the rate of illegal migrant workers],” the governor told the INQUIRER in an interview on Wednesday, August 16.
Pineda signed the FSWP with Jeollanam provincial governor Kim Yung-rok in November 2022 as part of efforts to help workers bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thirty out of 270 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have not returned from Yeongam-gun after their five-month contract ended, Lubao Mayor Esmeralda Pineda said in a news forum at the Park Inn Radison in SM Clark last Tuesday.
“They have been arrested, detained and faced hefty penalties,” Mayor Pineda told Pampanga Press Club members. She said she had even urged family members to ask their kin to go home since there were prospects of rehiring.
Pineda said the next batch saw 40 out of 130 workers illegally extending their stay in South Korea.
“Our fellow Filipinos lure them to go on TNT without considering that the FSWP is continuing and benefits many workers,” explained Magalang Mayor Ma. Lourdes Paras-Lacson.
The basic pay under the FSWP is P80,000 monthly, she said.
Pineda said she shared the job allocations with Magalang and Apalit towns when Lubao faced a ban on sending farm workers.
The number of TNTs from the two towns ranged from only two to eight, enabling them to find jobs for an average of 200 farmers per batch.
“Those who went on TNT should not deprive others of job opportunities,” Mayor Pineda said.
“Having TNTs is an insult to both South Korea and Pampanga,” Lacson added.
On social media, several farm workers posted photos of renovated homes funded by their income in South Korea.
“Katas ng Melon” (Fruits from the Melon) is how they branded their earnings for growing fruits.
Farm workers who cannot leave for overseas jobs shamed their villagemates who overstayed by posting their photos on social media. INQ