Malacañang on Wednesday pooh-poohed the planned “Zero Remittance Day” protest by migrant Filipinos, saying similar actions in the past had no effect on the country’s economy.
“We experienced that in 2013 at the height of the PDAF [Priority Development Assistance Fund] or pork barrel issue and there were no reports that it had a negative effect,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told reporters in Filipino.
“With that as basis, we need not worry about it,” he said.
Coloma noted that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may delay their remittances but they would still send money to their families.
He, however, said Malacañang “respects the right of OFWs to express their sentiments.”
The militant group Migrante on Tuesday announced that it would call for a “Zero Remittance Day” on Friday to express the indignation of migrant Filipinos over the planned tighter inspection of balikbayan or care boxes. The plan was scrapped on Tuesday on orders of President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Migrante chairman Connie Bragas-Regalado said while they are pleased with Aquino’s order to the Bureau of Customs to halt the plan, they are still protesting the Bureau of Customs’ P600-million revenue target for balikbayan boxes.
Coloma said while Malacañang recognizes the contributions of OFWs to the economy, there is still a need to fight smuggling, especially technical smuggling, which allegedly involves the use of balikbayan boxes.
Sen. Francis Escudero, meanwhile, said the government stands to lose some P3.1 billion if the campaign for “zero remittance” pushes through this weekend.
On the average, Escudero added, Filipino workers across the globe sent a combined remittance of $2.014 billion per month from January to June this year based on data of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
He noted that a one-day remittance boycott could translate to losses of over $67 million, or some P3.1 billion (at P46.61 exchange rate), for the Philippine economy–money that could have been spent for the basic necessities of relatives of OFWs here such as food, clothing, shelter and utilities.
According to the BSP, personal remittances from OFWs in 2014 set an all-time high for the country at $26.93 billion, which accounted for 8.5 percent of the gross domestic product last year.
During the first half of 2015, it reported that personal remittances from OFWs grew by 6.2 percent to $12.7 billion from $11.9 billion during the same period last year. With PNA