Palace assures public: ‘Zero Remittance Day’ probably won’t affect economy
MALACAÑANG on Wednesday said that while it respects the decision of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to participate in a “Zero Remittance Day” protest, similar events in previous years did not affect the economy.
“Ang dating naging karanasan diyan ay noon pang 2013, ‘nung kasagsagan ng isyu ng PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) o pork barrel, at noon naman ay walang naiulat na masamang epekto ito,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told Palace reporters. “Kaya kung ‘yon ang pagbabatayan ay tila wala naman tayong dapat ikabahala hinggil dito.”
(Our previous experience with that, in 2013 during the peak of the PDAF issue or the pork barrel, there were no reports that it had bad effects. So that is our basis when we say that we should not be bothered by such protests.)
On Tuesday, migrant group Migrante Partylist announced that it would hold a “Zero Remittance Day” on August 28. This is despite President Benigno Aquino III’s order to scrap the Bureau of Customs’ new policy on the physical inspection of balikbayan boxes.
Nevertheless, Coloma said Malacañang “respects the right of OFWs to express their sentiments.”
However, he said it is an OFW’s decision to send or not send remittance or money to their relatives in the Philippines.
“Kaya sa kanilang pagpapasya isasaalang-alang nila na, kung ano man pagpapahayag ng kanilang saloobin, kailangan pa rin nilang maiparating ‘yung mga remittance na ‘yon. Maaaring maantala ito ng isang araw pero hindi naman siguro ito nila iniisip na huwag ipadala,” he said.
(As they decide, they will take into account the need to send remittances. It might be delayed for a day but I don’t think they would decide not to send it anymore.)
Coloma said the government believes that Filipinos working abroad would do what is beneficial to their loves ones.
Migrante chair Connie Bragas-Regalado said that although they were “pleased” with Aquino’s decision, which they consider an “initial victory for OFWs,” they were still protesting the BOC’s imposed P600-million revenue target for balikbayan boxes.
The BOC earlier claimed that it was losing P50-million a month from smuggled goods in balikbayan boxes.
Migrante hopes the “Zero Remittance Day” would force the government to retract the P600-million target revenue.
Coloma also emphasized that Malacañang recognizes the contributions of OFWs to the economy.
However, he explained that there was a need to fight smuggling, especially technical smuggling which involves the use of balikbayan boxes.
He said smugglers were the ones who “destroy the symbol” and meaning of balikbayan boxes, which are regularly sent to the Philippines by OFWs.
The BOC has drawn flak online after it announced plans to physically inspect balikbayan boxes.
OFWs said they feared pilferage while Migrante decried the revenue target, saying migrants should not be seen as “milking cows” by the government.