OFWs mulling ‘zero remittance day’ vs. budget cuts

Migrante International and other members of the NO CUTS! (Network Opposed to OFW Budget Cuts) joined other sectors under anti-budget cuts alliance Kilos Na! in a caravan to the Senate to protest budget cuts in social services.

Groups under Kilos Na! vowed to intensify protests against “Aquino’s anti-people budget” as the Senate resumes hearings for the 2012 GAA this week.

Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International and spokesperson for NO CUTS! said that OFWs abroad are also preparing for international actions against budget cuts. “We call on OFWs around the world to link up and make our protests heard. Let us not allow the passage of an anti-OFW and pro-labor export national budget.”

A petition campaign against OFW budget cuts and calling for higher budget for OFW services is presently circulating among OFW communities around the world. Signatures will be submitted in time for the bicameral deliberations by end of November.

Like SUCs and other social services, Martinez said, funds for direct OFW services were slashed and will get a measly share in the 2012 National Expenditure Program (NEP).

In the proposed P1.8 trillion budget, direct services for OFWs from concerned government agencies will only amount to not more than P3.14 billion or a measly 0.17 % of the total budget, according to global alliance Migrante International.

OFWs raked in USD $18 billion remittances by yearend 2010 but will only get less than one percent share in the 2012 national budget, he said.

He decried “mis-prioritization” in the 2012 national budget, resulting in a mere P261.83 per capita spending for the total number of 12 million OFWs worldwide. “This is a far cry from the billions of dollars of remittances we rake in and the profit the government makes from OFWs through various fees and charges. A ‘zero remittance day’ is in the offing to protest this injustice.”

Martinez said that while funds for welfare and services for OFWs decreased, increases were made in the DOLE and POEA budgets mainly for their “marketing and job placement” purposes. “The 2012 budget is clearly meant to further intensify Aquino’s labor export policy.”

Compared to other allocations such as debt-servicing, privatization (through PPP), unsustainable dole-outs, military budget and other “white elephants”, direct services for OFWs are among the least funded in the 2012 budget.

NO CUTS! is gearing for bigger protests in time for the BiCameral Conference on the 2012 national budget and ‘Camp-Out against the Cuts and the Crisis’ in Mendiola on December 6 onwards. ###