Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) help keep the country’s economy afloat through their remittances, that’s why a one-day remittance boycott could translate to losses of over US$67 million, or some P3.1 billion, for the Philippine economy.
At least based on the estimate of Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero as more than one million OFWs who joined the “Zero Remittance Day” yesterday, August 28.
The remittance boycott was called by OFWs around the world to protest the Aquino government and the Bureau of Customs’s (BoC) imposed P600-million revenue target from balikbayan boxes.
“For as long as the P600-million target collection stays, OFWs and their families have every reason to believe that the president and the BoC’s steps are nothing but damage-control aimed at dousing OFW and national protests,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Partylist chairperson.
The Aquino government earlier put a stop to the BOC’s random inspection of balikbayan boxes after OFWs took to social media to express their outrage but remains mum on how it plans to retrieve revenues it allegedly lost from “smuggled goods” or “non-declared goods” in balikbayan boxes.
Bragas-Regalado said the Zero Remittance Day is a collective action of OFWs against any and all moves by the Aquino government to “scam us and treat us as nothing but milking cows.”
She said that the Aquino administration’s most recent statements “belittling” the Zero Remittance Day tomorrow “further incited OFWs and their families”. “They feel insulted. They feel challenged. They feel confronted. There is no love lost now between OFWs and their families and the Aquino government.”
The Migrante Partylist head said they expected Friday’s protest to be the biggest in scope and the most participated in by OFWs, their families and advocates worldwide since the Aquino administration took office.
Among those who joined were OFW groups and communities in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Middle East, Vietnam, Thailand, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, and Switzerland.
Here in the country, families were also telling their relatives abroad to join the Zero Remittance Day.
A Catholic prelate in charge of a commission on migrants also backed the plan to declare a Zero Remittance Day in the hope that the voices of the OFWs will finally be heard by the administration.
“This will show that OFWs has a voice, is a strong force that can make a difference in our country,” Balanga, Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People (CBCP-ECMI) said.
“They should never be taken for granted or taken lightly,” he added.
Santos said its about time that the government show its appreciation to the country’s “modern day heroes.”
“Government should be grateful to them and appreciate the OFWs sacrifices for their loved ones and the services for the country,” he said.