02/17/2009 | 11:04 AM
MANILA, Philippines – An alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East warned Tuesday that the impending 25-percent increase in passport fees and other consular charges could spark international protests.
Migrante-Middle East, claiming to be the largest OFW group in that part of the world, said the fee adjustment is unjustifiable.
“Increase in passport fees and other consular charges by the Arroyo administration … could not be justified especially in time of global financial crisis and price increases of basic commodities and services,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Migrante chapters in Europe last week showed strong opposition to the increase in fees, citing the “drastic drop in the local currencies vis-a-vis the US dollar.”
“We join hands with our fellow OFWs in Europe in denouncing the impending increase in passport fee and other consular fees as it only an additional burden. Fellow OFWs and their families are already bleeding dry due to numerous government fees and charges collected before they could be successfully placed abroad by recruitment agencies which also collected exorbitant placement and processing fees,” Monterona said.
He enumerated some of government fees and charges collected to an OFW from the required authentication of birth certificate, NBI clearance, OWWA membership fee, Medicare, Overseas Employment Certificate, Artist Accreditation Certificate, Passport Fee, authentication, renewal, that would reach to not less than P20,000.
“This is not to include the placement fee the recruitment agency would ask, which is equivalent to one-month salary,” he continued.
He said the Arroyo administration is again using an old squid tactic to implement first the increase of passport fee and other consular fees in RP posts in Europe, testing the waters first, then if there is no opposition other posts would follow suit.
“That’s why as early as this (time), OFWs and their families must strongly register their collective opposition and not to wait until the 25% increase in passport fee and other consular fees would be implemented in all RP posts abroad, first in Europe, Asia-Pacific, then in the Middle East and Africa,” Monterona added.
Migrante chapters in Europe already started conducting consultations and readying for massive protests.
OFWs in the Asia-Pacific would certainly follow, and OFWs in the Middle East will conduct consultations among OFWs and their organizations if passport fee and other consular fees have already been increased by Philippine Embassies and Consular offices in the Middle East, he said. – GMANews.TV