The insensitive P-Noy
Saying the approved government fees hike will hit them hard, migrants rights group today called Pres. Benigno Aquino III insensitive and his order anti-OFW and anti-people.
“Pres. Aquino’s Administrative Order No. 31 is anti-OFW, as we, OFWs and our dependents are already bleeding dry from unnecessary government fees and charges impose to us,” said Migrante regional coordinator in Middle East John Monterona. Signed by President Aquino III on October 1, 2012 and is to effect immediately, AO. No. 31 allows state agencies and government owned and controlled corporations to raise existing fees and impose new charges if necessary “to effectively provide services without straining the National Government’s resources.”
The group said Pres. Aquino is indeed insensitive on the economic hardship felt by overseas Filipino workers, their families and the millions of ordinary Filipino workers and urban poor. For one, OFWs are being charged for around P15,000 to P30,000 for documentation needed for deployment formalities on top of the placement fee equivalent to 1-month salary of the deployed OFW said the group.
This also on top of other fees for OFW needed government documents like authenticated birth certificate, NBI clearance and authentication, authentication of school credentials, passport application or renewal, community tax certificates, POEA processing fee, PAG-IBIG membership fee, Philhealth premium from P900 will rise to P2,400 January next year, OWWA membership equivalent to US$25, among other expenses. With Pres. Aquino’s AO No. 31, also consular fees abroad will eventually increase. In fact, the current P2,600. And with the current dollar-peso exchange rate, OFWs’ remittances were slashed of about 5% to 10%, which would mean ‘tightening of belt’ amid continuing oil price hikes and of basic goods and impending electricity and water rates hike, too.
Migrante Partylist Chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said the order will practically institutionalizes or legalize “kotong” , more state exactions and fees imposed on OFWs when existing onerous fees are still under protest by the sector since President Aquino took office. In a statement, Bragas-Regalado cited a study by Migrante International estimating that since 2010 the Aquino government has been collecting an average of at least P26,267 from every overseas Filipino worker (OFW) processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This amount is higher than the average P18,000 the government collected before 2010. According to the group, if 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad, the government earns an average P118 million a day, or roughly P43.14 billion yearly, from processing fees and other costs shouldered by OFWs. “Sobrang pangongotong, todo-todong kita ang gobyernong ito mula sa mga OFW, at ngayon dadagdagan pa,” said Bragas-Regalado.
As of 2010, estimated OFWs around the world have reached 11 million to 12 million while OFWs deployment per day is 3,200 per PEOA records.
Pres. Aquino should be sensitive on this. (Comments at firstname.lastname@example.org)
By: Ronald O. Reyes
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