Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International joined calls challenging the Duterte government to stop the TRAIN-induced price increases saying that the new taxation scheme “hits the OFWs and families hard” because it reduces the value of OFW remittances while the government gains more income from TRAIN-related new fees imposed on OFWs and their families.
Based on their recent study, the average OFW monthly remittance of P20,000 will have a reduction in value of P3,000 because of the decrease in the purchasing power of the peso due to record-high inflation and currency depreciation. According to government data, the value of P1.00 is now only 0.85 cents compared to its value in 2012.
Economic analysts revealed that the Philippines registered the fastest inflation rate ever in nearly a decade. The peso’s depreciation also increased the value of its foreign debts. The currency sank to its lowest level in 12 years, a massive blow to a country like the Philippines dependent on imports which are paid in dollar terms.
“Duterte’s TRAIN will force OFWs and their families to tighten their belts further and take on severe austerity measures to conserve their remittances. Many will be forced to do overtime and do side jobs to increase their earnings while their families in the Philippines will have to reduce their spendings or find additional sources of income,” said Arman Hernando, Chairperson of Migrante Philippines.
According to Migrante, OFWs and applicants looking for overseas work will also suffer the brunt of increased fees of government-issued certificates, particularly those issued by the Philippine Statistics Administration (PSA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which are essential documents for overseas employment. PSA and NBI imposed their new schedule of fees due to TRAIN last February 2 and March 12 respectively, increasing their charges by P15.
The study also revealed that the Duterte administration, from overseas Filipinos alone, will generate P9 billion annually from the increased rate of the documentary stamp tax on remittances and at least P100 million every year from the increased charges for birth certificate, NBI clearance, CENOMAR and various other documents.
“Sa pamamagitan ng TRAIN patitindihin pa ang pagsasamantala ng pamahalaan sa mga OFW bilang gatasang baka nito. Paniyak, tulo-laway sa pananabik ang rehimeng Duterte sa panibagong koleksyong kikitain nila mula sa mga migranteng Pilipino,” said Hernando.
Hernando also maintained that “no long-term jobs will be generated since these projects will bring in Chinese laborers at the behest of Chinese private contractors and lenders. It will only induce more resentment from our large local labor pool at a time when the Philippines has already cemented its position as having the highest unemployment rate in the entire ASEAN region.”
Migrante also named some of the private contractors who will rake in profits from Duterte’s Build, Build, Build which will be funded by TRAIN. Among those companies identified are San Miguel Corporation, Megawide Construction Corporation, Japan International Cooperation Agency, China National Machinery Industry Corporation and China CAMC Engineering Corporation.
Migrante argued that more communities will soon be forcefully evicted and more farms will be wiped out to give way to the interests of big developers. “Expect more scenarios like those of Marawi and Boracay,” Hernando warned.
The group joined the petition drive spearheaded by the STOP Train Network and initiated a sign-up campaign at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. Their preparations are now in full swing as they gear to join next week’s United People’s SONA to protest against what it calls “Duterte’s neoliberal and fascist attacks on the people.”
“We can no longer expect the current regime to work on improving social services and spurring countryside development through genuine agrarian reform since the bulk of the budget goes to debt-servicing, importation of construction materials for his pro-elite projects such as the Build, Build, Build. Duterte has already allocated hundreds of billions more from the national budget to intensify his atrocious wars against the urban poor, peasants, Lumads and Moros. Sobra na! Tama na! Wakasan na ang TRAIN Law at lahat ng anti-migrante at anti-mamamayang patakaran ng rehimeng US-Duterte,” Hernando concluded. ###