Is the Philippine government hell-bent on milking poor OFWs of money?

Another lawmaker has thought of a brilliant way to make money out of our hardworking and mostly cash-strapped Filipino overseas foreign workers (OFWs). Congresswoman Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David authored a bill that would increase the contribution of every departing OFW to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) from $25.00 to $50.00 (Php2,400).

Unsurprisingly, her bill is being strongly-opposed by the OFWs themselves. According to them, OWWA Resolution No. 038 in 2003 that obligates OFWs to pay $25 per contract for the Emergency Repatriation Fund (ERF) is already enough. However, Bonoan-David wants to amend Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 primarily to increase the fee.

The reason Bonoan-David gave for her proposed increase in the fee is that it will boost the Philippine government’s efforts to help distressed OFWs in strife-torn countries. It sounds good on paper but it’s really not. When Filipino politicians are involved, funds tend to get mismanaged. And why the heck do OFWs need to pay to be able to work abroad? It’s not like the government helped them find a job in the first place. The government is not even capable of providing jobs for them at home, which is the number one reason why Filipinos are forced to go seek employment overseas. It seems the Philippine government is getting more brazen in its continued violation of the OFWs’ right to travel.

Even some recruitment agents are not happy with the bill. Recruitment consultant Emmanuel Geslani stressed that the congresswoman might be breaking another law in seeking to amend Republic Act 8042. He said, “under Republic Act 10022, no additional fees may be imposed on top of the current fees stated in the law.” Furthermore, the OWWA already “accumulates P100 million every year for a total of P13 billion.” The consultant is also worried that the bill could turn off potential foreign employers who shoulder the OWWA contribution and could “cause the reduction of foreign companies who hire OFWs.”

The congresswoman has definitely caused uproar among OFWs with her proposal and I can understand why. Her reason is very lame and out of touch with reality. Some OFWs barely scrape enough cash to bring with them. I know of someone who was lucky to get a permit to work in Canada as a hairdresser but she didn’t have enough pocket money to bring with her so she had to ask for donations from family and friends to sustain her stay until she gets her first paycheck. She probably managed to collect less than $500.00 from everyone who could give. The thought that the government has to grab $50.00 dollars from people like her if ever the bill is passed is not just crazy, it’s also stupid considering the millions generated from the $25.00 from every departing OFW is said to be not even accounted for while some still languish in foreign lands unassisted by the Philippine government.

It’s bad enough that OFWs have to go through an eye-of-the-needle-like procedure at the airport due to the mandatory paperwork they have to show before they can be allowed to board the plane. All that is made even worse now that the fees they may have to pay would leave a big hole in their pockets. The required fee doesn’t stop with the OWWA contribution. They also have to pay the POEA processing fee of PhP100.00; Philhealth contribution of PhP900.00; Pag-Ibig membership of PhP100.00, not to mention the ever-increasing airport tax! All this financial strain just adds to the physical and emotional strain every OFW has to go through every time they leave the country.

OFW group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) is making a lot of noise and is seeking a dialogue with Congresswoman Bonoan-David. It would be interesting to see if the Congresswoman would even bother to listen to their grievances. Most lawmakers are good at ignoring the people they are supposed to be representing. John Leonard Monterona, M-ME regional coordinator labeled the proposal clearly anti-OFW.

Under former President Gloria Arroyo’s government, OFWs were hailed as a hero and were not required to go through a validation procedure at the airport anymore, giving them hassle-free departures. In contrast, President Noynoy Aquino (PNoy) seems silent on the matter, not even bothering to look into the woes of the OFWs.

It is disappointing that the current government is neglecting its Number One revenue earner. The OFW contribution in terms of remittances is said to have reached $1.7 billion for April alone.

To be honest, Congresswoman Bonoan-David’s proposal has laziness written all over it. Instead of a bill that could potentially milk more money out of the OFWs, she should come up with more legislation that contributes towards generating more jobs in the country so Filipinos would not have to go abroad. Lawmakers need to address the country’s dependence on remittances from overseas foreign workers (OFWs).

Like what I said in my previous article, the Philippine economy will collapse without the OFWs. The economic policy of exporting laborers as a response to our economic woes has to be addressed in the long-term. PNoy is probably thinking that he doesn’t have to work on the economy because he can rely on the remittances anyway, but as a country we cannot be too dependent on OFWs forever. In a study, Canadian professor Prod Laquian concluded that the export of workers has prevented the Philippines from advancing as a self-sustaining nation. He also likens the country to a man who “has become lazy because he receives remittances from a wife working as a domestic worker abroad.” Furthermore…

He noted that the Philippine government adopted the labor export program in 1974 as a stop-gap measure to ease unemployment and foreign exchange problems.

However, after 37 years, the Philippine economy has become heavily dependent on remittances, he said.

Almost ten million Filipinos are currently working overseas, mostly in North America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Europe, he noted.

Laquian stated that the most serious negative effect of Philippine labor export policies “has been the neglect of domestic production and poor investments in infrastructure, agriculture, mining, export promotion, and social development because of the easy availability of funds from remittances.”

“The country may be likened to a man who has become lazy because he receives remittances from a wife working as a domestic worker abroad,” Laquian said.

“For the government, the easy money from foreign remittances is a major cause of its inability to pursue sound economic development programs,” he added

I am just glad that I am not an OFW. There is no way in hell I would be happy to give this government more money that they can’t even manage well, specially since PNoy is under pressure to show economic growth after a slump last year. He’s probably happy someone from under his government thought of an easy way to tax the slaves.

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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110 Comments on "Is the Philippine government hell-bent on milking poor OFWs of money?"

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Bill Steffen
Guest

As a foreigner I never could understand why the govt made it so hard on the OFWs! Good Article!

tonybac
Guest

Good for you you’re not an OFW. Kapal din naman ng mukha ng kongresistang ito. Grabe! Mga wala na ngang silbi, mangongotong pa! Puro lang misplaced priorities! Are our esteemed leaders really that out of touch of what is happening with their surroundings to really come up with another stupid law that wouldn’t really benefit anyway those who are going to be affected first-hand? Swapang! Ganid! Buwaya! hehehe

up nn Grad
Guest

OH, NO!!! Lacierda/Ochoa (and maybe MLQ3 and Valte) will make sure that PersiNoynoy never reads your blog post. That’s because you actually suggested that GuLLOO’s administration was more pro-OFW than the Noynoy administration.

Gogs
Member

It is truly more fun in the Philippines. No work for you here but pass go and pay $50 on the way out. What’s that game again? Oh yeah. Monopoly.

rich but poor
Guest

puro na lang ba pagkakaperahan ang topic sa mga sessions ng mga ulupong na mga officials na yan?!

BenK
Editor

According to Channel 5 just in the past hour or so, the Congresswoman has apparently caved to the universal ridicule and withdrawn the bill.

Sid
Guest

This really annoys me to no end. For me, traveling overseas should be regarded as a relaxing luxury, not some prerequisite to a decent life. Besides most of the OFW’s would rather go back home than to assimilate into their place of work.

I’d like to see more Filipinos traveling for the sake of adventure and new thrills rather than worrying when they can send a paycheck to heir families.

K3
Guest

Killing the goose that lays golden eggs. Smart move Rep. Bonoan-David!

If you ever run for higher office, you can expect my vote to be waster before it goes to you.

K3
Guest

*wasted

alconce
Guest

For someone called “honorable”, she should not have even thought about it in the first place. Just goes to show the kind of people we elect to represent us in congress.

hasik64
Guest

This increase in the contribution of departing OFWs is just like the second collection during Sunday Masses in Catholic churches.Sobra na!

Aegis-Judex
Guest

My take on the second collection’s different. Personal experience–when the ‘dre calls for it, he’d sometimes say why. Other times, it need not be said (cf post-Ondoy or post-Sendong).

A
Guest

Local elections are approaching and politicians need the funds.. What else is new?

Crisostomo Ibarra
Guest

Good day!

Whoah. They really know how to grow and harvest money from diligent and hardworking Filipinos.

Paul Farol
Guest

Bonoan-David is my Congresswoman and she’s not getting my vote in 2013.

Crisostomo Ibarra
Guest

Good day!

I’ll get her vote. I mean, I’ll get the Balot boxes with all her votes inside and just throw it away abroad. I’ll pay 50 dollars for the shipping so that the votes will have a bon voyage.

Ice breaker.

Izah
Guest

Such a stupid law, obviously never studied nor considered all sides of those will be affected by such. Obviously, pera-pera lang, at masabi lang may nasulat na law.. lolz

FallenAngel
Guest

Nice write-up, Ilda.

I just don’t really understand why the government requires OFW’s pay to work in another country. The government itself was also lax in not giving them an incentive to stay, for that matter.

I can only imagine that PNoy will be opening his mouth about another “kabuwisitan” soon.

Fishball
Guest

Dont brand the president as that because he is doing a good performance in his job for us as his bosses. He had recently signed the
Foster Care Act of 2012,
which seeks to
systematize and enhance
the foster care program in the country. Foster care refers to the provision of planned temporary parental care to
a child below 18 years old
by a person duly licensed
by the Department of Social Welfare and
Development.

Justice Sereno has also the odds to be chief justice so lets support her.

Gogs
Member

Kris, your Kuya? I am sure he signed for his Xbox live membership . Make some more generals wait.

Daido Katsumi
Guest

You should have a job after all… as a comedian. You make us laugh with your immaturity.

And no, the president STILL doesn’t do his job very well.

FallenAngel
Member

Oh really?!?! And that affects the OFW’s in a good way exactly how!?!?!?

Your beloved president should be working to reduce our dependence on OFW remittances, but instead, he’s making us more reliant on them, and leaving the OFW’s for dead, literally and financially.

Those OFW’s will have a lot to say about his “good performance”.

Fishball
Guest

There are 3 years left and that is a big time that the president can change this country. It is not like making a building which is done immediately.

Amir Al Bahr
Guest

3-4 years left? What about the 2 that he has already wasted, hmm?

Danny Swift
Guest

That’s it? PNoy also encourages congress to legalize the use of OWWA funds to lend money to other countries. To make the money grow? Rubbish! That is to have additional justifications in case most of the funds will disappear during election or for the royal trips and vacations of most government officials and politicians and their families abroad, and to pamper their royal lifestyles in this country.

harold
Guest

really your imagination has become a reality again for us OFW and we are bwisit na bwisit na, now philhealth will increase from 900 -2400..

OFWSingapore
Guest
A message for Cong. Theresa Bonoan-David of 4th District in Manila: To whom it may concern: Ano po ‘to? Anong kapalpakang panukala ito Ng isang babaeng hindi naman ata naging OFW? Ano po ‘tong dagdag bayad na nalalaman niya?Hindi niya po ba alam na madaming katulong sa Singapore, Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Jeddah at iba pang bansa, na isang beses sa isang buwan LNG nakakapag-off day? Hindi niya ba alam na may nga OFW dito na d na makauwe dahil OEC requirement na yan kaya ung iba, sa ibang bansa nalng nagbabakasyon? Hindi niya po ba Alam na madaming… Read more »
Fishball
Guest

She already said that she has withdrawn the bill so stop and move on

jeanne
Guest

Why ask her to stop? Just ebcuase the bill is retraced for the time being doesn’t mean that it cannot be revived. This is a major sore spot for the writer and she exercises her freedom of thought. Even you have no right to stop her from expressing whtaever she is feeling. That same right is also afforded to you. If you wat her to be stopped, then you are also given the right to be stopped. One sauce apply all (I meant the sauce for the goose and the gander).

traffice2000
Guest
Congresswoman David – a heartless lawmakers. Did she ever check the conditions of OFW in OWWA when there getting their EOC as required by the government before your work abroad? Ang haba ng pila at lahat binabayaran from tubig, kape, ballpen…punyeta! nagbabayad ka na pagwala kang dalang ballpen bibili ka pa…isang araw ang uubusin mo para lang makuha mo EOC mo…..wala man lang pakape or patsaa!! at animal pa mga teller kala mo mga preso yung mga kumuha ng EOC kung makapagtaray at makaismid! kulang na nga sunugin mo yung building para wag ng tumungtong sa OWWA na yon..wala man… Read more »
Fishball
Guest

you must be now low blood because she has withdrawn the bill.

Daido Katsumi
Guest

Like Ilda said, that wasn’t enough. Stop screwing yourself and look at the bigger picture: most people should step up against the present government’s incompetence.

Fishball
Guest

Who is more incompetent? Gloria or Noynoy? I’ll go for Gloria because all of her dirt is on the street.

Totoong Pilipino
Guest

Good day!

They were both super heroes and super villains. I like them both on these two categories. I admire them and at the same time I hate them. Let’s make it balance.

Thanks,
Crisostomo Ibarra

Daido Katsumi
Guest
Nah. Noynoy has more dirt than Gloria. I mean, you’re just being EMO on her, claiming laiming she stole millions of YOUR money (when its the governments money to begin with. Taxation money ain’t yours son! You aren’t down with that? Complain about taxation without representation!) when she also was an efficient leader that kept the Philippines economy afloat, invested on its economic side and did what she could to keep the government from going astray as she wasn’t going to get any legitimacy as the transitional leader after Estrada. So in this system, she had to what she can… Read more »
Hyden Toro
Guest

Bonoan-David proposed a law, that could bleed the departing OFW slaves, to the last drop. She should be sent to a foreign country. To work as an OFW, then be charged with the fee, she is proposing, with her meager earnings abroad. She has good pay, as a Congresswoman, with a lot of Pork Barrels. Does she has any sympathy or even a sense of empathy on our OFW slaves…

Fishball
Guest

Don’t call our OFWs slaves because they are the new heroes of our nation.

Totoong Pilipino
Guest

Good day!

Before there were heroes, slaves were first. In my SO (stupid opinion), OFW’s were slaves of their homeland government. Their considered heroes because of their “pagiging martir” in their homeland’s government.

Thanks,
Crisostomo Ibarra

tonybac or
Guest

Nagsalita ang OFW, walang OFW ang naniniwala dyan! Magtanong ka sa kaninong OFW, baka mura pa abutin mo. Sinong niloko ninyo? Bayani? Gatasan kamo!

Hyden Toro
Guest

OFW slaves are called “Heroes”, to give fragrant names to their works. Like a Garbage Collector, called “Environmental Technician”…it’s nothing new about it. These people go to other countries; to work on low skill, low paying jobs. Live in dismal conditions, and are subject to all kinds of abuse by their employers…I have nothing against the job of collecting garbage. It’s an honest job. But, if you deceive people, of their hard conditions…this is something else…

sana
Guest
Really? HEROES?That is what they want the majority of the masses to believe.That’s why they keep on advertising that “bagong bayani” on mass media. The reality is, the government itself don’t treat us as one.Go to owwa or poea, kulang na lang murahin nila ang mga ofw at duraan.madalas tatarayan nila.Same with poea and marina.At san ka nakakita ng bayani na pinagbabayad ng kung ano anobago pa lang makaalis? Kaya nga kami umaalis dahil kailangan ng pero tapos dami nyo pang hinihingi. all of this Bagong bayani thing is bs. We are heroes to our family but a “slave to… Read more »
Dolly
Guest
Very well written, Ida. Thank you so much for your support. I am an OFW, too. Although I have a good job with a decent pay (I’m a teacher in a Catholic school), I’m very much in solidarity with fellow OFWs. Firstly, I don’t understand why OFWs are charged all those fees. Secondly, I am certainly NOT in agreement with this proposed bill. $50 may sound small for some, but in reality it is not, and definitely not for me. What is the worth of $50 for us, OFWs? For teachers like me, it means working 24/7. Paper works don’t… Read more »
Fishball
Guest

Its all on Gloria especially the 12% EVAT. She must be in jail.

Totoong Pilipino
Guest

Good day!

Our food taste like VAT.

Gogs
Member

Sana walang corrupt, walang mahirap, walang Fishball.

tonybac or
Guest

Pirma muna ng waiver, baka nagkakalimutan na yata e.

Anonymous
Guest

Your president must sign the waiver first FISHCRAP if he is truly for the “daang matuwid”

up nn Grad
Guest

PersiNoynoy has to go for one more term, don’t you think? Otherwise, guLLOO will be out of jail before she has paid for her Hacienda Luisita sin. Only PersiNoynoy will move heaven and earth to make sure guLLOOrrYYAA is in jail by hook or by crook.

Totoong Pilipino
Guest

Good day!

I hope the Congresswoman would memorize this line. “Ako ay Pilipino. Mahal ko ang bayan at kababayan ko.”

Ice breaker.

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