Manila fears loss of thousands of computer experts

AFP, The Straits Times, 3 November 2000

It is highly probable that 58,000 skilled Filipinos will be allowed into the US every year, Estrada warned

MANILA—An easing of restrictions on the entry of foreign computer workers into the United States may result in a massive brain drain of computer specialists from the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Domingo Siazon said in a memorandum to President Joseph Estrada yesterday it was highly probable that 58,000 skilled Filipino workers would be allowed into the US every year. Mr Siazon warned that the government had to prepare the Philippines for a probable brain drain of skilled Filipino workers abroad by training replacements to meet our own increasing domestic high-tech worker demands.

He called for the creation of crash training and apprenticeship programmes for those working in information technology.

It is believed there are already 9,700 Filipinos working in the information-technology sector in the US.

The Philippines is a source of highly-trained, English-speaking workers in computer software.

Filipino college dropout Onel de Guzman, 24, is suspected of creating the Love Bug, one of the most potent computer viruses in cyber history.

The bug spread around the world, causing US$10 billion (S$17.5 billion) in damage as it paralysed computers from the Pentagon to Britain's Parliament.

The Philippine authorities filed theft and other charges against Mr de Guzman, but dropped them because of insufficient evidence.--AFP