Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are again spreading anxiety well beyond the two countries’ borders. Although hundreds of miles from the brewing conflict, the Philippine government faces the potentially daunting prospect of evacuating 60,000 of its citizens from South Korea should hostilities break out.
But while it’s commendable that the Aquino administration has said it has adequately prepared for an evacuation, the question of what would happen next for the 60,000 Filipinos is still lingering in many people’s minds.
For example, if there were a new Korean war, how would they fend for themselves after returning home? Would they add to the already distressingly high ranks of unemployed in the country?
Of course, there’s a good chance that many would simply choose to go and find work in another country. After all, Filipino workers—many of whom are highly skilled—are known around the world for their hard work. But it’s this work ethic that’s also pushing so many overseas as they try to provide for their families. In that sense, conflict on the Korean peninsula is just one more force that will displace them.
For many Filipinos, all this is happening at a particularly bad time of year. Christmas is an extremely important family occasion for many Filipinos, and to be forced to return home less than a month before the holiday, with no prospect of making ends meet when they arrived back, would be a depressing thing indeed.
With an estimated ten million Filipinos scattered around the globe, another thing is clear—even if the Philippine government is prepared to help the actual workers displaced by conflicts or natural disasters, it’ll find it extremely difficult to cope with the impact such circumstances might have on the many millions at home, dependents of those workers who rely on remittances to survive.
The clouds of war may be gathering on the Korean peninsula, but war’s gloomy shadow is being cast over Filipino families here, too.