MANILA – The Malacañang Palace respected the overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) plan to launch a ‘Zero-Remittance Day’ tomorrow, August 28, and believed that there was nothing to worry about the day-long protest’s minimal impact on the Philippine economy.
“Iginagalang namin ang karapatang magpahayag ng saloobin sa hanay ng mga OFWs (We respect the OFWs’ right to express their sentiments),” Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.
The Malacañang also acknowledged the OFWs contribution to the growth of the country’s economy but noted that the past ‘no-remittance days’ held no repercussion to the local economy.
“Patuloy naming kinikilala ang mahalagang ambag ng mga OFWs sa ating ekonomiya (We continuously recognize the important contribution of the OFWs to our economy),” Coloma said.
“[Ngunit] kung ‘yon ang pagbabatayan ay tila wala naman tayong dapat ikabahala hinggil dito (But if those will be the basis, it seems like we have nothing to worry about it),” he added.
The Palace also believed that the protest was unlikely to become a month-long action.
“Maaaring maantala siya ng isang araw pero hindi naman siguro ito nila iniisip na huwag ipadala (It may be delayed for a day but they might not be thinking about not sending),” Coloma said.
The Malacañang issued the statement after Migrante partylist announced that various OFW groups called for a ‘Zero-Remittance Day’ on Friday as a protest against the Bureau of Customs (BOC) high taxes on ‘balikbayan’ boxes and even on air parcels.
“We are pleased that the President has spoken on the issue of random inspection of our balikbayan boxes… But all the beautiful words cannot hide the fact that the administration has imposed on BOC a P600-million revenue target from balikbayan boxes, Migrante partylist said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Calling the halt of random inspections on balikbayan boxes a partial victory, OFWs then sought for tax exemptions and the drop of the P600-million revenue target from packages sent.
“Mas matuwa kame kung sasabihin ng Presidente na ‘wag ng lagyan ng taxes o buwis ‘yung mga balikbayan boxes (We will be better-off if the President would order [the BOC] to no longer impose taxes on balikbayan boxes),” Migrante partylist chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said.
“Sa Friday po, August 28, mungkahe na ‘to mula mismo sa mga chapters sa labas ng bansa na ilunsad ‘yung ‘Zero-Remittance Day’ (On Friday, August 28, this has been proposed by chapters outside the country, to declare a ‘Zero-Remittance Day’),” she added.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero claimed that the country could lose around P3.1 billion should the OFWs withhold remittances tomorrow.
“The OFWs play a major part of the Philippine economy and its sustainability… This is not the way to treat our modern-day heroes,” Escudero said, citing a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) report that OFW remittances grew by 6.2 this year compared to last year.