2 years under PNoy More fees, less services for OFWs

Under Aquino, OFWs suffered more state exactions and fees throughout the whole migration cycle. Since 2010, the government had imposed numerous other fees from OFWs pre- and post-departure – the increase in e-passport fees, mandatory Pag-Ibig contributions, Philhealth premium cost hike, mandatory medical insurance, Affidavit of Support fees, to name a few.

Migrante Internatioanl estimates that since 2010 the Aquino government collects an average of at least P26,267 from every overseas Filipino worker (OFW) processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This amount is higher that the average P18,000 the goverment collected before 2010.

Fees charged to OFWs (per contract)
76 signatures (for different types of document requirements) P7,600
E-passport fee (minimum) P1,200
POEA fee (for new hires) P7,500
OWWA fee (USD$25) P1,075
Pag-Ibig mandatory contribution P600
Mandatory insurance coverage (minimum premium USD$144) P6,192
Philhealth (minimum) P1,200
TOTAL P25,367

“If 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad, the government earns an average P114 million a day, or roughly P42 billion yearly, from processing fees and other costs shouldered by OFWs! Sobrang pangongotong, todo-todong kita ang gobyernong ito mula sa mga OFW,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

“These do not yet include other fees and tax schemes imposed on OFWs, such as the affidavit of support (AOS) in UAE, Macau and some parts of Europe and the discriminatory P75 Comelec certificate of registration, and other onerous fees specifically charged to seafarers and entertainers,” he said.

Martinez said that the Aquino administration had further institutionalized what their group calls “state exactions” but welfare services for OFW have gone from bad to worse. “Unresolved cases of OFWs continue to pile up at the POEA, National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).”

“State exactions have caused OFWs and their families to become debt-ridden, contributing greatly to the widespread landlessness and poverty of many. It is not unheard of for peasant families to mortgage or sell their small parcels of land or to submit their children to unpaid labor just to be able to pay debtors or produce the sum needed to pay for exorbitant pre-departure and placement fees,” said Martinez.

He added, “OFWs are plagued with an assortment of issues and problems throughout the entire migration cycle yet the Aquino government has barely done any decisive action to support and protect its migrant workers and their families. The Aquino government’s ability to uphold Filipino migrants’ rights and promote their welfare has lagged behind its apparent success in pursuing its labor export policy.”

The efforts and outcomes are uneven. On one hand, efforts are systematic, sustained and deliberate on regulatory matters facilitating the departure of migrants and receipt of remittances. These have resulted in record numbers of Filipinos overseas. On the other hand, efforts are spotty, partial and erratic on matters relating to giving migrants protection and support at home or abroad. There is even a lack of accurate, comprehensive and timely information about the migrant workers themselves. All these highlight the steady rise in violations of migrant rights.

“Many OFWs and migrant organizations have gone so far as to characterize the government as ‘criminally negligent’ in its repeated abdication of taking primary responsibility for protecting migrants and their families,” he said.

“Taking these factors into consideration, the recurring problems of maltreatment, insufficient social and welfare services, government failures and violence against OFWs underscore the reality of the wide gap between the labor export policy and the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers and their families.”

Martinez said that state exactions and unjust taxation of OFWs will be amongst the main issues they will bring up in the People’s SONA (State of the Nation Address) on July 23. ###