MiIGRANT RIGHTS advocacy group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) today lambasted President Benigno Simeon Aquino III over the latter’s claim that the number of overseas Filipino workers are on the decline due to the country’s sustained economic growth.

During his recent state visit in Japan, Aquino claimed that his administration reform initiatives and inclusive growth has resulted to the decline of the number of Filipinos who prefer to work abroad.

The President cited the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) data that there were over 10 million OFWs in 2010 but their number dropped to about 8.359 million as of end 2014.

Para sakin po magandang indication ito na nakikita ng ating mga kababayan na gumaganda na ang buhay sa Pilipinas,” the president was quoted as saying.

In reaction to Aquino’s claim, M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said, “Aquino himself is a master spin doctor.”

Granting that there is economic growth, the most appropriate question is who benefited such growth? Hindi naman ang nasa C, D, and E or lower classes ang nakikinabang sa growth na sinasabi ni Aquino,” said Monterona.

Aquino’s economic growth claim is superficial, he added.

Monterona added that most of the OFWs came from classes C, D, and E, mainly from the families of workers and farmers who became skilled workers and professionals.

Monterona, citing the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) statistics, said overall numbers of OFW deployment is on a steady increase even during the first year of Pres. Aquino.

On 2010, there were 1,123,676 deployed all destinations; 341,966 were new hires that equate to 30.4% of the total number of OFWs deployed that year.

On 2011, 1,318,727 deployed all destinations; 437,720 were new hires that equate to 33.1% of the total number of OFWs deployed that year.

On 2012, deployed all destinations were 1,435,166; 458,575 were new hires that equate to 31.9% of the total number of OFWs deployed that year.

While on 2013, there were 1,469,179 deployed all destinations; 464,888 were new hires that equate to 31.6% of the total number of deployed OFWs that year.

“If there is a decline in the deployment of Filipinos abroad this is mainly due to the shrinking labor market amid the Aquino administration intensified search of labor market frontier so that it can continue peddling cheap Filipino labor,” Monterona added.

“Usually, during the early years of the Aquino presidency, his labor honchos claimed that it has deployed more than 1.2-M a year and that it offered jobs to millions of jobless Filipinos. Joblessness and unemployment rate is still high. The Aquino government performs poorly in this aspect,” Monterona said.

Monterona cited a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that the country’s unemployment rate hit 27 percent, this equate to 12.4 million jobless Filipinos, in the last quarter of 2014. According to the SWS, the latest jobless rate was higher than the 22.9 percent – equivalent to an estimated 10.4 million Filipinos – recorded in the third quarter of 2013.

As his last State of the Nation Address is coming near, we would expect Aquino to be trading lies over lies to justify his ‘Tuwid na Daan’ slogan. Only his ‘KKK’ or Kaklase, Kabarilan, at Kakampi will be clapping standing ovation as he delivers his last SONA,” Monterona said.