All systems go for Zero Remittance Day on Dec18

 At least 20 countries will be participating in the Zero Remittance Day on December 18, International Migrants’ Day, as a symbol of protest by overseas Filipinos against the present political crisis besetting the Aquino administration and overall government neglect of OFWs.

Overseas Filipinos from Australia, HK, Japan, South Korea, Macau, New Zealand, Taiwan, KSA, Qatar, Libya, UAE, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK, Canada and the United States will refrain from sending remittances on December 18.

According to Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez, “The Zero Remittance Day is our way of sending a warning to the Aquino administration that OFWs around the world are displeased and discontented with the present political and economic situation in the country. It is our way of making the voice of the migrant sector heard. We are vigilant and we demand changes in the present system.”

Martinez said that the Aquino administration’s ‘special treatment’ for Rep. Gloria Arroyo and the most recent impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona “is a clear reflection of the Aquino administration’s weakness to lead the country”. “

A political crisis is looming and it is sure to greatly affect the country’s economy. Even though our OFWs are out of the country, they are very much concerned about the repercussions of recent events on the country’s political and economic stability. And these all spring from Aquino’s lack of political will and misplaced priorities.”

The Zero Remittance Day also revolves around tactical economic demands:

– No to budget cuts, instead, higher state subsidy for direct OFW services under the DFA, DOLE and other concerned agencies;

– Full audit and investigation of OWWA funds, and the scrapping of the OWWA Omnibus Policies;

– Retraction of moves to impose mandatory Pag-Ibig, SSS and insurance fees  and taxes for OFWs;

– Legal assistance to OFWs on death row and in jail, and massive repatriation of stranded OFWs for Christmas; and,

– A genuine and sustainable reintegration program for returned OFWs, not loans such as the OWWA P2B Reintegration Package.

 Projected effect on government and big businesses According to Martinez, from the top 5 remittance-sending countries alone – US, Canada, Japan, Middle East and Hong Kong – the Zero Remittance Day is expected to affect at least 30% of the daily remittance inflow.

COUNTRY SEPTEMBER 2011 January to September 2011 January to September 2010 Percentage
Hong Kong 28,483 271,912 249,628 8.93%
Japan 84,479 704,634 673,017 4.70 %
Canada 177,885 1,488,838 1,446,186 2.96 %
Middle East 289,151 2,311,675 2,149,911 7.52 %
USA 724,263 6,208,583 5,583,337 6.62%
 TOTAL        30.73%

  “Contrary to what the government is trying to forecast, the ZRD will not have any adverse effect on the micro-level. Families will not bear the brunt of the ZRD because our OFWs still have the option to remit on another day, or through informal means. Ang higit na maapektuhan ay ang kita ng gobyerno at malalaking mga negosyo na matagal nang nakikinabang sa remittance ng mga OFW,” Martinez said.

He added, “Marami nang nakinabang at gumamit sa ating remittance.  Ngunit, higit kaninuman, nasa atin ang kapangyarihan na pagsilbihin ito sa ating kapakanan.  Isang sandata ang Zero Remittance Day para ipakita na sa pagkakaisa ng mga migrante at kanilang pamilya ay malakas na makakalampag ang gobyerno ni Aquino, laluna para sa mga kahilingan ng mga migrante at pamilya mismo.”

On December 18, OFWs from different parts of the world will converge in the Philippines for a big mobilization for International Migrants’ Day. Chapters of Migrante all over the world will also hold simultaneous actions to protest government neglect of OFWs and the Aquino administration’s continuous implementation of a labor export policy. ###