OFWs to PNoy on ‘bulalo’ retort: Look who’s talking

Migrante International today slammed President Aquino for his recent jibes in a speech before the Filipino community in Aukland during his state visit in New Zealand.

Aquino reportedly said, “’Di ba marami hong tupa rito pero siguro ho baka mas madali dairy: Ginagatasan mo na, gusto mo pang gawing bulalo,” using dairy as an analogy to describe corrupt officials during former president Arroyo’s time.

“Look who’s talking. That’s exactly what his administration is doing to overseas Filipino workers,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez said that Aquino’s latest Administrative Order 31 was worse than “making bulalo out of the government’s milking cows, the OFWs.” AO 31 further legalizes “kotong” and state exactions imposed on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). AO 31, signed last October 1, called on all government heads and agencies to “rationalize the rates of their fees and charges, increasing their rates and impose new fees and charges.”

Kumbaga, ginatasan na nga, ginawa nang bulalo, inukit pa ‘yung mga buto at binenta pa ulit bilang dekorasyon. Mas masahol nang ‘di hamak sa nagdaang mga administrasyon,” Martinez said.

He said that OFWs suffered more state exactions and fees throughout the whole migration cycle since Aquino took office. 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 International estimates that the government now collects an average of P26,267 from each OFW processed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This amount is higher than the average P18,000 the government collected prior to 2010. 4,500 OFWs leave daily to work abroad, earning the government an average of P118 million a day or some P43.14 billion a year.

Martinez said that members of the Filipino community and other solidarity groups protested outside while Aquino was giving his speech.

The protesters scored Aquino for spending P44 million of taxpayers’ money for his recent state visits to New Zealand and Australia.

The P44-million trip consists of 90 delegates, including seven Cabinet members. “Again, look who’s talking. This is reminiscent of former president Arroyo’s stately junkets. Aquino is all talk only for show. He and the very person he is criticizing are of the same mould.”

He also slammed Aquino’s latest “labor export junket,” saying that it will only serve to further intensify labor export and pimp out Filipino workers’ cheap labor abroad.

Martinez made the statement days before migrant organizations and advocates are set to serve subpoenas to labor-export-facilitating countries a month before the upcoming Migrants’ Tribunal on the GFMD (Global Forum on Migration and Development) which will be held in Manila in November. ###