This was the call reiterated by the largest alliance of Filipino migrant organizations in a forum on overseas Filipino workers (OFW) remittances and how it impacts on development. The forum was held at the Trinity University of Asia in Quezon City and was co- organized by Migrante International and The College of Arts and Letters of Trinity University.

Citing data from a study done by the organization, Migrante International chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado, averred that the 15-22 US dollars in charges and fees for government and private banks and other money couriers, are raking in billions of dollars at the expense of OFWs.

Meanwhile, Ibon’s research department head Sonny Africa presented data that showed how much of a billion-dollar industry the sending of remittances really is and why banks, money couriers, and even government, are scrambling all over each other to capture the OFW remittance market.

All these money-making institutions keep paying lip service to serving the country’s ‘bagong bayanis’ but what they really mean is how much more money they can squeeze out from us, averred Regalado. Where are these money-hungry institutions when an OFW is in distress? Or even a more fundamental question, where is government?

Regalado added that the remittances alone being sent through banks, even without the charges or fees, already provide a huge boost to a bank’s financial standing. We believe that the government and the banks should put their money where their mouth is and declare the sending of remittances to be free of charge! That would be truly a service to OFWs.

Senator Mar Roxas also presented his proposed bill calling for the scrapping of the documentary stamp tax (DST) imposed on every remittance sent by an OFW. He cited that while the 0.15 percent DST is miniscule, in a time of economic crisis, every centavo counts.

A representative from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) meanwhile described the regulatory functions of the BSP. Reactors from Land Bank, Development Bank of the Philippines and the Association of Bank Remittance Officers were also invited to the Forum.

A highlight of the forum was a testimony from a relative of an OFW, the direct beneficiary of remittances sent, who described that the regular remittance that she receives from her OFW sister is hardly sufficient to make ends meet.

The forum is part of an information drive on the concerns of OFWs that will culminate in an international conference called the International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IAMR) which will be conducted on October 28-30 at the same time as the Global Forum on Migration and Development. #

For reference:

Connie Bragas-Regalado,

Migrante national chairperson

Mobile number – 0927-2157392

comments powered by Disqus