Weak ringgit keeping Filipinos away, says envoy

Eduardo MalayaPETALING JAYA: Malaysia does not hold any more appeal to the people of Philippines when it comes to work opportunities, be it legal or otherwise, says the outgoing Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Eduardo Malaya.

He attributed this to the much-weaker ringgit, adding that for Filipinos seeking employment overseas, the lucrativeness of the destination was important and Malaysia has less of it these days, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) reported.

“The attractiveness of Malaysia as a labour partner has somehow been diminished because the ringgit depreciated significantly in recent years. Almost to the tune of 25 per cent.

“Our people will usually be paid in local currencies, so when there is depreciation in the ringgit, they will effectively be getting a salary cut,” Malaya was quoted as saying by the daily.

He added that aside from tourist numbers, the “number of Filipinos coming to Malaysia was on the decline”.

Malaya also believes that it is no longer true that there was a continuing influx of illegal migrant workers from the Philippines into Sabah.

“The current number of Filipinos working in Malaysia on top of the nearly 500,000 living in Sabah was now at about 100,000. This figure has barely increased in recent years as the ringgit’s value took a dive,” he said, though according to PDI, he did not provide figures for previous years.

Malaya agreed that it was a positive point for Malaysia in that the devaluation of the ringgit had some favorable effect on the government’s drive against illegal migration to Malaysia, including Sabah.

“There has also been lots of security measures put in place on the Sabah side and they (Malaysian authorities) have been more strict in regulating the inflow of people who may want to cross over (from the Philippines),” he was quoted as saying.