OFW remittances boost hometown development

May 30, 2009


By Doris Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted date: May 29, 2009

MANILA, Philippines—Who said remittances from overseas Filipino workers would plunge drastically due to the global financial crisis?

Today, more and more OFWs, aside from regularly sending money back home to their families, tend to band together to raise funds to help develop their hometowns.

The agricultural town of Pozorrubio in Pangasinan province, for instance, was cited in a recent study commissioned by leading global money transfer company Western Union as an example of a new phenomenon called “collective remittance.”

Because of the huge development potential of such inflows, especially in the Philippines which is one of the world’s largest recipients of remittances, Western Union said it planned to pilot-test in the country a project aimed at ramping up collective remittances.

“Migrant worker remittances are mainly family to family paying for basic necessities. But if remittances are pooled and invested in creating economic opportunities for the whole community, the impact would be greater,” said Western Union vice president Angela Heng, who was in Manila Thursday to host a one-day conference on collective remittance.

Ahead of the meet, Western Union commissioned the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to conduct a study on communal or collective remittances in different parts of the world, their impact, and what could be done to make them more effective.

Pozorrubio, which has about 10 percent of its population working overseas, was cited in the study for having a local government that was able to encourage its overseas residents to make collective remittances to support local public works projects.

Bright lights

Since 1986, town officials have been visiting Pozorrubians in California, Chicago, Hawaii, New York, Washington and Hong Kong to encourage them to form themselves into solidarity groups, elect officers, and identify projects and programs in their hometown that they could support monetarily.

“For example, Pozorrubio had no street lights, but after the mayor encouraged the migrant workers’ families to put up lampposts in front of their homes, the whole town lit up,” the EIU study said.

As the Pozzorubian migrants became better organized, the study said the local government began encouraging them to hand their donations directly to the beneficiaries, and invited them to return home to see for themselves the impact their remittances were having.

“Return migration was the theme of the 2002 town fiesta,” the study said.

It said Pozorrubian migrant communities were able to finance the construction of a park and library, and refurbish a high school’s English learning center.

The community hospital received an electrocardiograph, computer, stethoscopes, toilet, septic tank, window screens, electric fans, beddings and medicines.

On top of these, the hospital is visited annually by locally born doctors who perform medical missions.

Multiplier effect

“The multiplier effect of these remittances has been enormous. By 2001, this rural town of 56,000 had Internet cafés, car rental services for visiting migrants, video rental shops, and a rural bank with over $2 million in deposits and only a few borrowers,” the study said.

It also built 12 public and private irrigation facilities, 50 manufacturing establishments, six big private housing subdivisions and 32 day-care centers.

Different strokes

“This level of development is almost never seen in rural Philippines, even in the larger municipalities. Moreover, the town’s tax collection is one of the highest in the region, with most of the revenue coming from the busy public market,” the study said.

The EIU said other LGUs had taken different approaches to encourage their migrant populations to invest in local enterprises.

“The most visible example is the province of Bohol which set up an investment center and enacted a local investment code to assist investors in identifying, organizing and matching their resources with local partners,” it said.

The Island Garden City of Samal, near Davao City, passed a similar code geared toward developing local tourism, it noted.

Another area where migrants make collective remittances is charity.

Cited as an example was the Filipino community in South Puget Sound in Washington state which raised more than $200,000 that it remitted to a foundation in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur to finance rehabilitation and livelihood projects.


Pinoys warned against new variant of Nigerian scam

May 19, 2009

Pinoys warned against new variant of Nigerian scam
05/12/2009 | 02:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Jobseekers, beware of another scam promising non-existent jobs in Nigeria.

The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the new variant of the “419 scam” uses the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria’s address to look more authentic.

“The syndicate requires the recipient to remit money to a particular bank account in Nigeria, supposedly as payment for application fees, taxes, and other processing fees,” a DFA advisory on Tuesday said.

The modus operandi involves sending e-mails to unsuspecting victims promising employment in Nigeria, bank loans, lottery winnings or double-your-money schemes using Filipino names to victimize aspiring migrants.

“In the latest incident involving Filipino nationals, an e-mail from a certain ‘Dr Ruben S. Cruz’, supposedly working at the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria, circulated asking recipients to remit US$200 to the Federal Inland Revenue Services of Nigeria in order to receive a tax certificate,” the DFA added.

The Philippines has not yet lifted the deployment ban to Nigeria.

“The public is advised not to send any money or divulge personal information, particularly bank accounts or credit card numbers, if they received similar e-mails.

The public may refer such e-mail messages to the Cybercrimes Division of the National Bureau of Investigation and the Anti-Money Laundering Council of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas,” the DFA said. – Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV


2 rescued Pinoy seafarers in Nigeria injured – DFA

May 19, 2009

2 rescued Pinoy seafarers in Nigeria injured – DFA
05/19/2009 | 04:10 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Two of the Filipino seafarers rescued last weekend from a hijacked oil tanker in Nigeria were hurt, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Esteban Conejos Jr. said the injured were among the nine Filipino seamen — not just six as earlier reported — who were rescued from Niger militants who hijacked the MV Spirit on May 13.

The MV Spirit had a seven other crew members of different nationalities, the DFa said.

“Two of the nine rescued Filipino seafarers had slight injuries,” Conejos said.

DFA Secretary Alberto Romulo had earlier dispatched Conejos to personally look into the condition and welfare of the Filipino seafarers on board the chartered oil tanker.

Quoting Nigerian army spokesperson Colonel Rabe Abubakar, the DFA reported that the latest operations brought the number of freed hostages to 13, including the nine Filipinos and four Nigerians.

“A consular team was sent to the city of Warri in Delta State where the hijacking took place, and the nine rescued Filipino sailors are expected to be turned over to the embassy’s custody shortly,” Conejos added.

Conejos and. Alex Lamadrid, Charge d’Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, had met and continue to communicate with the Nigerian foreign ministry and federal security officials for the safe and early release of the remaining Filipino seafarers in the custody of Nigerian militants, the DFA said.

After years of militant activity and lack of maintenance on crucial oil infrastructure, Nigeria produces about 1.6 million barrels of crude per day, or about one quarter less than its stated capacity

The Philippine government has stopped sending Filipino workers to Nigeria following hostilities and kidnappings of foreign nationals. Several groups have requested that Manila lift the deployment ban as the situation there continues to improve. – Mark Joseph Ubalde, GMANews.TV