Philippines: Exempt OFWs from Passport Fee — Pimentel

Apr. 12, 2007

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Aquilino Pimentel III today proposed that overseas Filipino workers be exempted from the payment of the P700 passport fee to ease their financial burden before going to their foreign destination.

Pimentel said the free passport scheme is privilege that should be extended to the OFWs to reward them for their role in stabilizing the economy in the form of foreign exchange or dollar remittances that have propped up the peso and boosted the countrys international dollar reserves.

He said this will also partly compensate for the sacrifices that the OFWs have to bear, specially the emotional pain that they and their families have to suffer as a result of long periods of temporary separation.

The senatorial contender from Mindanao noted that the government has been boasting about its vastly improved revenue collection, which only means that it could absorb the income loss arising from the proposed passport fee exemption.

The government is fond of saying that it wants to pay back to the Filipino people the benefits and services that they deserve for doing their share in shoring up the economy. What could be a better manifestation to pay back the OFWs for their contributions to our economic development than to launch this free passport scheme? Pimentel said.

The GO senatorial candidate also pointed out that the foreign exchange remittances of the OFWs which reached about $12 billion last year have greatly helped boost the value of the peso.

The strong peso, according to Pimentel, has done wonders to make life easier for Filipinos in terms of reducing the prices of consumer and industrial products which are wholly imported or with imported components.

He also said that the appreciating peso has eased the governments budget deficit and cut down interest payments on foreign debts that generated billions of pesos of savings.

We love to call our OFWs the modern heroes of our time. This tribute will have greater meaning for them if we extend them tangible privileges such as free passport as a sign of our gratitude, Pimentel said.

He added that the OFWs will very much appreciate the governments efforts to lighten their pre-departure expenses, citing the common practice of desperate workers and their families of selling or mortgaging their houses, farms and other valuables just to pay all their employment costs.

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