Forced remittance bill smacks of Marcosian law – Migrante
MANILA, Philippines – A bill filed in the House of Representatives requiring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to send money back to their family or dependents in the Philippines or else their passport will not be renewed has been described as a resurrected Marcos law by an international migrant workers group.
“It is stupid, unnecessary and obviously just another money-making scheme,” Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of Migrante Sectoral Party, said in a statement Wednesday in response to House Bill (HB) 3576 filed by OFW Representative Roy Señeres.
“HB 3576 is a resurrection of Marcos’ draconian Executive Order (EO) 857 which was protested widely by OFWs around the world,” she said.
Section 1 of HB 3576 states that OFWs “are required to remit regularly a portion of their foreign exchange earnings to their family or legal dependent recipient in the Philippines.”
“Ambassadors, Consul Generals, Chiefs of Mission, or Charge d’ Affaires are authorized to withhold the renewal or approval of the passport of an erring OFW unless proof of compliance of the remittance requirement of his financial support is submitted,” the bill states.
In Señeres’ explanatory note on HB 3576, he said that the bill aims to protect the families or relatives of OFWs who have been “neglected and abandoned” in the Philippines.
“There have been reports of families or dependents of OFWs who have complained of the failure of the OFW relatives to send support to them,” Señeres said.
“This is particularly true for many families of land-based OFWs since there is no law or rules and regulations which require them to remit a portion of their foreign exchange earnings to their families in the Philippines,” he said.
Regalado said that the bill is reminiscent of former president Ferdinand Marcos’ “forced remittance law” EO 857 that “drove OFWs in deeper debt.”
“It is a blast from the past and a slap in the face of OFWs around the world who are already knee-deep in debt and barely coping with the global economic crisis,” she said.
EO 857, which was enacted December 13, 1982, required seamen, contractors, doctors, engineers, and other professional workers, to remit 70 percent of their basic salary while domestic and other service workers should remit 50 percent.
Section 4 of EO 857 states that “the Ministry of Labor and Employment shall not approve the renewal of employment contracts and agency or service agreements unless proof of remittance of foreign exchange earnings is submitted.
Punishment also includes the non-renewal of the OFWs passport and suspension or exclusion from the list of eligible workers for overseas employment.
“It was precisely the previous forced remittance law that further drove OFWs in deeper debt. It gave rise to the proliferation of loansharks and lending institutions that fed on the desperation of OFWs,” Regalado said.
HB 3576 is currently pending with the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs since December 16, 2013.
According to December 2012 records of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, there are 10,489,628 permanent, temporary, and irregular Filipinos in countries all over the world.
OFWs remitted more than $21.4 billion in 2012, according to the records of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The figure has steadily risen from $20.1 billion in 2011 and $18.7 billion in 2010
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