Among history’s greats Leonardo da Vinci is often considered “sui generis” —a man of such stupendous genius that the world may never see his like again.- Merriam Webster
The below post serves as reply to the last two objections raised by Bangko Sentral and the Department of Finance on the OFW bank as pushed by Vice-Pres. Binay.
This post authored by Romie Cahucom serves as sequel to his earlier post, “Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is“ which was also featured in this blog.
This is an issue that is of paramount concern and importance to all OFWs.
In Reply to the Two Other Objections on the OFW Bank
This post serves to answer the two other objections raised by the government regulators on the formation of an OFW bank which has been pushed by Vice-President Jejomar Binay since late 2010.
To refresh our minds, the government regulators objected to formation of an OFW bank, citing issues of “cost, redundancy, administrative and regulatory unwieldiness, and sending signals that discourage private sector competition which, they claimed, already benefits OFWs by way of driving down transaction costs.”
We took up the first two objections in a previous article entitled, “Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is.”
Now we take up the last two objections.
The Issue of Administrative and Regulatory Unwieldiness
Frankly, I find it difficult to figure out how the issue of administrative and regulatory unwieldiness comes in. Continue reading
I’ve been advocating OFW issues and concerns in our blog but one issue that I am very keen of, is the creation of an OFW Bank. There are many organizations that I am affiliated with, like in the past the Bohol-Leyte OFW Cooperative, OFW Cooperative Council, OFWNet, United OFW, and at present Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino, OFW Congress, and even Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP), the proposed political party of OFWs, all of these groups tackled the possibility of creating an OFW Bank that will cater the real needs of OFWs and their families.
Also, there have been bills filed in Philippine Congress that seek the creation of a bank for OFWs, the Senate Bill No. 639 by Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr.; House Bill No. 723 by Rep. Judy J. Syjuco; and HB No. 1565 by representatives Jaime C. Lopez and Prospero Nograles. Up to this date, the mentioned bills are among those stacked of files found in the dim lit areas of the House of Congress.
There was even a proposal from Vice President Jojo Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns submitted to the Office of the President but there are many sectors of government opposed the plan for the creation of an OFW Bank.
The featured article below by: Romie Cahucom will give an update on this issue and perhaps – would be solution to the most awaited OFW Bank.
Remittance Is Not the Enemy, Economic Reintegration of Returning OFWs Is
For this post, we get back to the OFW bank issue by offering a sort of brief rebuttal to the first two (2) objections of Bangko Sentral and the Department of Finance on the proposal of Vice-President Jejomar Binay for the formation of an OFW bank way back in 2010.
We recall that Vice-President Binay, way back on November 22, 2010, sent a formal letter to President Benigno Aquino III recommending the establishment of an OFW bank which “will provide an alternative yet viable economic financial and remittance institution for our kababayans at the local and international levels”.
As reports go, the Bangko Sentral and Department of Finance “had advised the Palace against the scheme, citing issues of cost, redundancy, administrative and regulatory unwieldiness, and sending signals that discourage current private-sector competition which, they claimed, already benefits OFWs by way of driving down transaction costs.”
President Aquino then, upholding the position of government regulators, did not approve the OFW bank proposal.
Vice-President Binay, despite the disapproval, vowed to work on with the OFW bank initiative “to encourage savings and investment among OFWs”.
It is presumably in this light that the Vice-President commissioned the Technical Working Group (as I mentioned in previous posts) to prepare a study for the establishment of an OFW Development Bank.
For purposes of this post, I assume that the recommendation of Vice-President Binay is for an OFW bank along the same lines as the following report from dailies:
“The OFW Bank project was first conceptualized in 2006 to consolidate the financial assets and operational capabilities of government financial institutions like the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Philippine Postal Corporation (PPC), together with its subsidiary Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB), as lead entities towards the creation of a financial institution for overseas Filipinos that is less expensive and more focused in its direction and services.”
Now for the brief general rebuttal on the first two (2) points raised by the government regulators (We shall take up the rest of the objections in a future post).
The Issue of Cost
Forget about the previous (2006) proposal involving Land Bank, DBP, Philippine Postal Corporation and the Philippine Postal Savings Bank. The solution is simply to buy an existing savings or thrift bank to jumpstart and start the OFW bank rolling. This is not a big deal as I am sure it is not difficult to find a small bank up for sale which should be based in Metro Manila or nearby.
The recent FORUM held last July 7, 2006 between OWWA officials and migrant sectors concluded that the creation of an OFW Bank through government initiative is not the answer to our long dream of having a bank that we can call our own.
They also questioned the bills filed in Congress just for a mere inclusion of the word “particularly”, “preferably” and “priority”.
A bill is a proposed law, subject for deliberation and approval by the members of Congress. This can be corrected or amended if there is really a probable cause disadvantageous to OFWs. Kaya nga proposed bills.
I am not questioning the intellectual abilities of the minds behind the said forum, but why we should not focus on a unified recommendation for the realization of this dream?
I still believed that creation of an OFW Bank through legislative measure is the best solution on this issue. – BongA
The Ten Point Recommendation of Filipino Community Leaders in Riyadh (see related link below Joint Resolution #OFWC06-002)initiated by OFW Congress to be presented in the forthcoming visit of PGMA to the Kingdom was submitted in advance to Special Envoy to Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Tony Villamor yesterday, 5 of May 2006 at Al Mutlaq Hotel, Riyadh.
Various community organizations presided by Alex Veloso Bello of the OFW Congress-Riyadh attended the forum. The said Ten Point Recommendations was read by MAA and was then approved by the attendees by affixing their respective signatures manifesting their support to the Joint Resolution of the 21 Executive Council Members of OFWC and 16 participating groups.
During the meeting, a resolution was also adopted and approved by the majority of the original 21 EXECON members of OFWC, accepting 10 new member organizations. The OFWC will now have 31 Executive Council that would decide in any advocacies the group will undertake concerning vital issues affecting the rights, welfare and economic well being of the OFWs, more particularly in the Kingdom.
The Joint Resolution that was officially agreed is more on the issues pertains to the plight of our distressed OFWs. It urge the President to give more attention for the speedy resolution of pending labor cases as well as early repatriation of those resolve cases of our female and male stranded workers. Other concerns such as Reintegration Program for returning OFWs as well an appeal to the President to reconsider her order for the transfer of 1 Billion Pesos OWWA Fund to Phil. Postal Bank and in lieu thereof, the creation of an OFW Bank that OFWs can call their own, where implementing mechanisms is for the best interest of the Filipino migrant workers sustained by a legislative measure.
Prior to the meeting proper, Filcom leaders had their breakfast exchanging conversation with the good Ambassador who arrived earlier than expected. A nice indication that -the would be Ambassador- is worthy to his call as the new Father of the OFWs in the Kingdom.
In the meeting proper each Filcom leaders were given a few minutes to introduce themselves as well as what organization are they represented. Each leaders give a warm Welcome to His Excellency in which in return gave his remarks after MAA made a short introduction of who is Ambassador Tony Villamor.
In his message, he made an assurance that problems of the OFWs will be taken care of with utmost attention if ever he will be given the privilege to serve the OFWs in the Kingdom. *** BongA
The issue of the transfer of 1 Billion OWWA Fund to Phil. Postal Savings Bank was opposed by many OFWs. The Overseas Filipino Workers Congress-Riyadh is one of the many groups who believe that the transfer is not in the best interest of the OFWs in general.
One of the several solutions that we proposed is that – if there is really a transfer of fund as what PGMA recently announced, it must be in a form of a legislative measure where we can see the implementing guidelines, rules and its mechanisms.
Last April 16, 2006, the OFWC wrote a letter to Senator Manuel Villar, Jr. on the proposed Senate Bill 639 he authored re: creation of Phil. Overseas Workers Bank for us to evaluate the said bill and in order to determine whether it is for the best interest of the Migrant Filipinos.
Below is his reply through the office of his Legislative Officer Reesa Novella and kindly see attached link for the full text of SB 639. – BongA
28 April 2006
Mr. Manuel Amora
Overseas Filipino Workers Congress
Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Dear Sec. Gen. Amora:
We would like to extend our warm greetings to the Overseas Filipino Workers Congress in Riyadh and the entire Saudi Arabia.
We are in receipt of your letter dated 16 April 2006 requesting for a copy of Senate Bill No. 639 or the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank. Attached is a soft copy of the bill which seeks to address the Filipino overseas workers various financial needs and concerns and further enhance their investment potential.
Thank you very much for your interest in the bill. We will appreciate if you could send us your comments about it.
Our office is always more than willing to help our OFWs.
Our organization Kalipunang Kaakabay ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Saudi Arabia (KAKAMPI-KSA) received an official invitation letter yesterday 25 April 2006 from the office of (POLO-Riyadh) Labor Attache Manuel Roldan informing us the arrival of Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the Kingdom on May 7, 2006. Also in the letter it said that PGMA will have an audience with the Filipino Community on the evening of May 8, 2006, 8:30 PM at the Philippine Embassy grounds.
We all knew that GMA made many plans in the past to visit Saudia Arabia; the last one was of September last year that did not materialize. Now, at last! She will be here for an official visit primarily to discuss with Saudi Government on oil issues particularly in the light of rising crude prices in the world market. Hoping she could achieve positive outcome on her number one mission – to secure affordable oil price.
I believed that the issue about Filipino Expatriates in the Kingdom is in the list of her priorities, considering the fact that for the past few days 7 of our compatriots were implicated in the recent horrible incident in Jeddah where they are deeply involved.
Certainly, she can’t just ignore this problem, after all – she represents the image of the Filipino community in the Kingdom. Perhaps, what she can surely do at this moment is to request the Saudi Government to treat those alleged suspects in a manner where their rights are properly protected under the Saudi Law. Also, I understand that she is expected to appeal for clemency for other six Filipinos facing the death penalty on various murder charges.
The mentioned letter of invitation is requesting Filipino Community to give inputs and recommendations in relation to OFW issues and concerns. It is going to be submitted today in advance prior to the said scheduled meeting for her consideration.
Well… there are many OFW issues and concerns; in fact a lot of recommendations were already submitted to the proper agencies that oversees the plight of Filipinos overseas.
Some of our concern NGO’s at home made an appeal to the Lower and Upper House of Congress for the possible amendment of certain provisions in the Republic Act 8042 known as Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. There are also many attempts from our pro OFWs legislators by filing Senate and House Bills intended for the general welfare of migrant Filipinos. Sadly, a number of them were left unattended in the closet of their respective committees pending deliberations and appropriate action.
Last year we even raised the question of the legality of OWWA USD 25.00 contribution to the highest court of our land but unfortunately as of now it is still in the good hands of our esteemed members of Judiciary pending its decision.
All of these were not given exceptional attention from the three (3)branches of our government namely; the executive, legislative and the judiciary.
Where else do we go? Directly to the President? Are there any assurances that the President will give attention to our recommendations? We hope so. Nevertheless, there is no harm in trying.
WE therefore, respectfully submit the following for the Presidents’ utmost consideration:
A) TRANSFER OF OWWA FUND TO PPSB
We strongly opposed the plan to transfer 1 Billion Peso OWWA Fund to Philippine Postal Bank. If there should be a transfer of fund, then it must be governed by a legislative measure where we can see and understand its implementing mechanisms.
An appeal to the President to act in behalf of the OFW’s to expedite the early discussions and deliberations of the following legislative proposal:
Senate Bill No. 639 authored by Sen. Manuel Villar, Jr. Re: Seeking the creation of the Philippine Overseas Workers Bank to serve the financial and investment needs of the growing number of OFWs worldwide;
HB No. 1565 authored by Rep. Jaime Lopez Re: An Act Establishing the Overseas Filipino Bank. This bill concentrates and would specifically authorized to address the banking, economic, financial, and related needs of the more than eight million Filipinos working abroad.
Any of the two above Bills that would be in the best interests of the Migrant Filipinos Overseas, then we hereby request for its passage into law.
B) RECOGNIZE OFW AS A SPECIAL SECTOR
A) The OFWs are not properly represented in the policy formulating boards of the government agencies that oversees OFW’s issues and concerns.
1) The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Welfare Administration (OWWA) governing board should be well represented by an OFW who comes from the OFW rank himself/herself and not just a mere political appointees whose credentials are not well define as representative to OFW’s.
2) That any such appointees should be consulted or must be recommended by the OFW Community themselves.
3) Dubbed as Modern Day Heroes and economic savior, OFWs should be recognized as Special Sector” and therefore be provided with empowering mechanisms in the affairs of governance locally.
4) OFWs contributed a lot to the progress of local economies and it is therefore recommended that upon their return for good to their respective localities they should be given a place in the affairs of local governance.
5) Former OFW and their families be given a right sustained by executive or legislative measure to participate in the local election of the City or Municipal Council. In this manner the government reintegration plan for the OFWs into the mainstream of our society particularly in the grassroots level will be truly established and rightly implemented. *** BongA