MALACAÑANG on Saturday said it respects the decision of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to hold more mass actions against the Bureau of Customs’ (BoC) plans to tighten rules on balikbayan boxes.
On Friday, the militant labor group Migrante said OFWs would turn the “Zero Remittance Day” into a “Zero Vote” campaign against administration candidates in the coming 2016 elections in response to the bureau’s policy on balikbayan boxes.
In a radio interview, Palace deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte said it is up to the OFWs to choose the candidates they want in the next election.
“Ang inaasahan lang po natin ay, siyempre, mababase po ito sa plataporma; mababase po ito doon sa ano po ba ‘yung ikagaganda pa ng ating bansa, at ‘yung ikabubuti pa ng buhay ng ating mga pamilya [The administration hopes their (OFWs) votes would be based on the politician’s platform for the country’s welfare and their families],” she added.
The new policy on balikbayan boxes infuriated OFWs worldwide. The BoC said balikbayan boxes are being used as a means to smuggle goods or ship illegal narcotics.
Valte said OFWs are free to express their sentiments on any issue like the one on balikbayan boxes.
“At ang lagi ko pong sinasabi sa kanila ay malaya silang ipahayag ang kanilang mga saloobin, whether they join a ‘no remittance day’ or they may send [the]government a message on Facebook or they can post their sentiments online or magpa-interview sila sa media [I would like to constantly remind (OFWs) them that they are free to express their opinions, whether they join a ‘no remittance day,’ or send the government a message on Facebook, or they can post their sentiments online or be interviewed by the media],” she said.
Malacañang earlier downplayed the no-remittance day, saying it will have no effect on the economy. However, cash sent home by overseas Filipinos help fuel the country’s consumption-induced economic growth.
Following a series of protests, the BoC announced it would come up next week with the revised regulations on how they would handle balikbayan boxes.