MANILA, Philippines—More organizations composed of overseas Filipinos have committed to participate in the Sept. 19 “Zero Remittance Day” to protest of the alleged misuse of pork barrel funds by several lawmakers.
According to Nhel Morona, Migrante-United Arab Emirates spokesperson, they will join Filipinos worldwide in the campaign to stop sending remittances home on Sept. 19 to demand the abolition of the pork barrel system.
“We are dismayed by the corrupt practices happening in our country. The money that’s supposed to go to public service projects is being pocketed by a few,” Morona said.
Members of the Filipino community in Dubai, the Northern Emirates (Filcom-DNE) and the Bayanihan Council in Abu Dhabi also expressed support for the Zero Remittance Day.
Overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong also vowed to participate in the protest in pursuit of the abolition of the pork barrel system, prosecution of the corrupt government officials and the re-channeling of funds to direct services to the people including overseas Filipinos.
“We do not work overseas and endure separation from our loved ones just so government officials can plunder public funds or so Aquino can uphold the corrupt pork barrel system,” said Eman Villanueva, secretary general of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong-Migrante (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK).
“Our money is not meant to feed the greed of the corrupt and the plunderers. The billions of dollars of remittance that we send and the billions of pesos more generated from the long list of fees that the government charges to OFWs that help keep the economy afloat are not meant to keep a thriving corrupt system of governance,” said Villanueva.
The biggest progressive OFW alliance in Hong Kong also hits the Aquino government’s belittling of the zero remittance call, saying that the Aquino government’s aggressive export of Filipinos abroad shows that it puts premium on OFWs’ contribution to prevent the total slide of the Philippine economy.
“OFW money may go directly to our family but remittance records are also used by this government to bloat up its earnings that in turn improves its credit standing. We supply the dollars that prevent the peso from total collapse,” added Villanueva.
According to him, OFWs are angered by the continuing corruption, slow prosecution of culprits, and Aquino’s special treatment of Janet Lim-Napoles, the alleged architect of the P10-billion pork barrel scam.
He lamented that thousands of Filipino migrants are deprived of basic support and services to protect their well being and human rights.
“While billions of pesos are in the coffers of government officials with Aquino leading the pack for the advancement of their own agenda, the lives of OFWs are endangered due to lack of funds for repatriation, and their families struggle to make ends meet with skyrocketing of goods, utilities and services,” Villanueva added.
He added that while they may not be able to join in street protests in the Philippines, they will express their solidarity through various forms like the Zero Remittance Day initiated by Migrante International.