Militants hit OFW forum

October 22, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008
By Annabelle L. Ricalde

MILITANTS protested Tuesday in front of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) office to denounce the holding of Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in the country next week.

The two-day forum will be participated by different countries that are members of the United Nations, private banks, investors from big telecommunication companies, money transfers and recruitment agencies.

Wildon Barros, spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) in Northern Mindanao, said the purpose of the forum is to re-align the working system abroad for the government and other big corporations to benefit the dollar remittances from Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). He said the forum will also outline new taxes for OFWs.

“Nahimo na nga commodities ang atong mga OFWs nga basta na lang ipatrabaho sa gawas ug gihimong gatasan sa gobiyerno,” Barros told Sun.Star.

Militants condemned President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the continuing economic crisis, which they said has made the country the second largest human resource exporter in the world.

Barros added that the forum will actually represent how backward the country’s economy is, contrary to Arroyo’s claim that the forum will delve on the OFWs contributions to the country’s economy.

Surprised by the protest, Roseller Bartolome, Owwa’s officer-in-charge explained that their office is not the proper agency to answer the grievances aired by the militants.

“Kumbaga sa task force, Owwa is only a member and besides we are only implementing mandate from the national level,” Bartolome told Sun.Star.

The scheduled activity is a multi-agency forum coming from different countries in which delegates will discuss the human depict of migration and recognize it as the key to development.

Barros, along with other militant groups such as Anak Pawis, Gabriel-Northern Mindanao Region and Alagad sa Maayong Panlawas, is also demanding the removal of remittance fee and service charges, including documentary stamp tax, imposed on OFWs.


Scrapping of remittance fees could be studied – Palace

July 23, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang may look into the possibility of scrapping remittance fees being paid by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) amid the fuel and food crises faced by the country.

Lorelei Fajardo, deputy presidential spokesperson, said government economic managers could mull over Migrante International’s proposal to either give up the fees or lower the rate of OFW remittance being received by the government.

“That could be studied. But for the meantime, the government is doing its best to mitigate the impact of the challenges that our country is facing now in all sectors of the society especially the poorest of the poor,” she said.

She acknowledged that OFW contributions helped the government in cushioning the impact of the global surge in the prices of basic commodities.

Migrante International-Middle East Chapter earlier called for the scrapping of the remittance fees to enable the families of OFWs to cope with the economic crisis.

OFWs are charged a 15-percent documentary stamp tax, which is deducted by the government from all remittances coursed through legal channels.

OFW remittance in the first five months of 2008 reached $6.8 billion, up 14.7 percent from last year, according to the Philippine central bank.

There were 533,945 OFWs deployed during the said period, or 40 percent more than those deployed in the first five months of 2007, based on government records.

The central bank expects that remittances coursed through banks will reach $15.7 billion by the end of 2008 or 9 percent higher than in 1997.

Most of the eight million Filipinos abroad work as domestic helpers, entertainers, nurses, caregivers, engineers, and ship crew members.

A large portion of OFW remittance come from Saudi Arabia, US, United Kingdom, Canada, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. – GMANews.TV