|Overseas Filipinos Worldwide REMITTANCES from 2005 to 2010|
|IN MILLION U.S. DOLLARS|
|Month & Year||2005||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|Source: Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas|
The suffering heroes
The OFW sector continues to be the economic savior of the country. Last year remittance from Overseas Filipinos Worldwide reached a total of $17.348 billion which is 5.4 % above remitted in 2008.
Many Filipinos believed that with the new administration’s fight to end corruption and its people’s expectation of good governance, there will be an economic growth in the Year 2011, but the very people who help uplift economic turndown in our country are the ones being hurt.
Last Saturday, Mario, my roommate was very upset of the P 44.74 exchange rate versus a dollar. He needs to send P25,000.00 monthly budget remittance to his family back home and with the said exchange rate he needs to look for an additional SR 100 to maintain his monthly remittance. Like Mario, me too could fell the high cost of living in Saudi Arabia compare in the 90s. That is why our remittances will vary from time to time and whether we like it or not we have to remit regardless of what level the peso is.
However, economic expert said that this year’s fourth quarter growth will depend on the OFWs remittances coming year end and Christmas season.
But June issue of The Market Call of the First Metro Investment Corporation (FMIC) and University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) Capital Markets Research, expectations that the economy will post an 8% growth could be vulnerable due to the country’s budget deficit and strong peso.
In economic point of view, strong peso could diminish the purchasing power of OFWs and according to FMIC, strong currency also discourages domestic manufacturing and pushes down tax collections. This negative forecast should be given utmost attention by our new administration in order to come up with their expectations.
We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s economic condition but it must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.
Since August 1 to 8, 2010, there is a continuing dollar decline on our remittances as shown below. And it can’t be denied that with the trust and accompanying support of the Filipino people in the new government under the leadership of President Benigno Aquino III, there will be a crucial impact of a strong peso in the following months. We already suffer enough being away from home, we can’t afford additional burdens.
|Sunday 8 August 2010||1 USD =||44.7444 PHP||USD PHP rate for 08/08/2010|
|Saturday 7 August 2010||1 USD =||44.7474 PHP||USD PHP rate for 07/08/2010|
|Friday 6 August 2010||1 USD =||44.9395 PHP||USD PHP rate for 06/08/2010|
|Thursday 5 August 2010||1 USD =||44.9765 PHP||USD PHP rate for 05/08/2010|
|Wednesday 4 August 2010||1 USD =||45.1762 PHP||USD PHP rate for 04/08/2010|
|Tuesday 3 August 2010||1 USD =||45.0788 PHP||USD PHP rate for 03/08/2010|
|Monday 2 August 2010||1 USD =||45.2656 PHP||USD PHP rate for 02/08/2010|
|Sunday 1 August 2010||1 USD =||45.604 PHP||USD PHP rate for 01/08/2010|
We therefore request the new government, especially to the economic team of the new administration to look into ways to mitigate the negative impact of the continuing dollar decline on our remittances, and alternatives may be implemented such as; a) Peg the Peso b) Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund c) Creation of an OFW Bank that will cater OFW financial needs d) Special exchange rate for OFW remittances.
By: Bong Amora
Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development
A conference of Filipino organizations in the Netherlands entitled “Converging Filipino Diaspora Global Initiatives for Sustainable Development” will be held on November 2, 2007. Prior to the said conference the participants will be having a preliminary conference on October 29 to 30 dubbed as “The Filipino Expert’s Meeting”.
The general objective of the conference is to develop a common agenda towards harnessing the development potentials of migration and underline the importance of the contribution of the migrant and overseas Filipinos to the development of the Philippines, emphasizing the better use of their remittances, skills and acquired knowledge.
The participants will include Filipino organizations, especially those involved in development projects, other migrants groups based in the Netherlands and Dutch institutions concerned with migration and development. Representatives of Filipino networks from other European countries as well as from North America, Asia, Middle East and from the Philippines is also part of the conference.
Filipino resource persons will shed light on the current situation of the Philippines on a number of relevant themes related to migration and development. A Panel of Reactors composed of migrant and overseas Filipinos will share their specific responses and current initiatives.
Invited guest include Senator Kiko Pangilinan to speak on the role and impact of the contribution of the Filipino diaspora to the development of the Philippines. Ms. Djahlia Sitti, of the Moro Human Rights Center, a young Moro leader, will focus on the role of women in development within the context of peace-building. Writer, poet and artist Ms Mila D. Aguilar will share her insights on the evolution of Filipino culture, the current challenges in the Philippines and entrepreneurial mass movement as a response. Congressman Mujib Hataman, Anak Mindanao Party list representative will share his view on good governance in the light of the current situation of the Bangsa Moro people.
Other invited speakers are; Dovelyn Rannveig Agunias of Migration Policy Institute, Washington , DC, Leila Rispens-Noel Programme Officer, Popular Campaigning Oxfam Novib, The Netherlands, Mai Anonuevo Atikha, Philippines and Prof. Rolando G. Talampas University of the Philippines.
Guests includes Burgemeester Job Cohen the Mayor of Amsterdam, H.E. Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles, Philippine Embassy and Minister Bert Koenders of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Alex Veloso Bello, the President of OFW Congress-Riyadh is representing OFWs from Middle East.
The conference is a project of Habagat Foundation in cooperation with Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland, Bisayang Daku Network and core-OFW.
Habagat is a foundation put up in 1993 by Dutch citizens of Filipino origin, specifically from Mindanao. It believes in the potentials of the migrants as agents of change and development both in their countries of origin as well as in their host countries. This vision has been reflected in its lobby and advocacy efforts in synergy with various migrant and overseas Filipino networks. It has also initiated and supported development projects both in the Philippines and other developing countries, like Nepal. Its partners include migrant organizations and migrant-related institutions both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. On top of this, it has closely monitored the Mindanao situation. Aside from peace-information drives for Mindanao in the past almost 20 years, it has sent a Peace Delegation to the Philippines in December 2006 in partnership with the Multicultural Women Peacemakers Network in the Netherlands.
Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland or Damayan was registered as an organization of Filipino migrants in 1986. It is committed among others, to support initiatives of people’s organizations in the Philippines as well as to facilitate exchanges between Dutch organizations and Philippine-based groups. It has conducted and supported campaigns on migrant rights, social participation and integration as well as rallied against trafficking of women and violence at home. It has participated in various migrant lobby and advocacy work like the Absentee-Voting, Ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of the Rights of the Migrants and their Families. Currently, in close cooperation with the local government of Magsaysay, Misamis Oriental and in partnership with community-based organizations, it has started the project Maria Goes To Town -this is establishing a market place functional to a number of neighboring villages. At the same time, it has supported a number of children to school, again in cooperation with the local governments, people’s organizations and public school officials in North Cotabato and Davao areas.
The Bisayang Daku Network or BisDak NL was established in early 1990’s among the Visayan-speaking migrant Filipinos in the Netherlands.. It has organized benefit activities to provide an occasion for the Filipino to meet and promote Filipino culture. Through these activities, BisDak raises funds for small-scale community projects in Southern Philippines.
The core-Overseas Filipinos Worldwide (Core-OFW) is a think tank of concerned individuals, migrant organizations, NGOs and other members of civil society based in Philippines, USA and Europe, each with different fields of expertise and affiliations. Its activities are facilitated by those based in the Netherlands where some of its active members come from.
For this entry and information, my heartfelt thanks to the Conference Secretariat headed by Grace Cabactulan, Habagat Foundation, Chairperson Stichting Habagat and Basco Fernandez of the Damayang Pilipino sa Nederland.
Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
Dear Madam President:
We are writing to you today to raise our concern over the continued appreciation of the peso to a level which is now hurting each and every one of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.
The following realities will help you appreciate the predicament we are in:
1) While our salaries during the last few years remained the same, our cost of living here in the Kingdom, like anywhere else, have increased. This means less income available for remittance to our families back home;
2) The situation became worse when the peso appreciated from 55 to 45 versus US dollar during the last ten months. The continued peso appreciation effectively reduced the value of our remittances by an average of 18%;
3) On the other hand the rising prices of commodities back home, which ironically should have decreased due to the strengthening of the peso, aggravated further the already worsening situation;
4) We estimate that with the 18% reduction in the value of our remittances plus, say a 10% increase in household expenses of families back home, an OFW who used to remit $300 monthly, will now have to send $405 to maintain his family’s current living standard. To be able to do this, he will have to work longer hours and/or tighten his belt.
5) For those of us who have planned to go back home for good within the next couple of years, will now have to reconsider our plans, and might have to extend our stay here in the Kingdom for a few more years.
We believe that a strong peso will help improve our country’s balance of payments, and allow the government to service the country’s debts at a lower cost. However, we also believe that the gains the government will earn from its debt servicing agreements must not be at the expense of those providing those benefits. It must not be at the expense of us Overseas Filipinos and our families.
We therefore respectfully request your good Office to look into ways and means to mitigate the negative impact of the continuing dollar decline on our remittances. Please ask the appropriate officials in your cabinet to study how the following alternatives may be implemented:
A. Special exchange rate for OFW remittances:
B. Peg the Peso – Dollar exchange rate at P50 to $1;
C. Creation of an OFW Stabilization Fund, like the one proposed for the export sector;
D. Provision of incentives or rewards based on the amount of OFW remittance, in order to encourage OFWs to continue remitting the same amount to their families.
We believe that with enough political will, your good Offices will be able to find a solution to this problem which is most equitable to all affected parties.
Thank you for your time, and may God bless you and your family.
THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY LEADERS IN RIYADH
Today’s Arab News online “Number of Filipinos Seeking Deportation in Jeddah Swells.”
Our heartfelt gratitude to ConGen for a job well done. It is just a matter of diplomatic initiative that contributes a lot in the on going deportation process for our overstaying compatriots in the Kingdom.
To make it clear, the consulate issued statement that “this is not for workers who have yet to finish their contracts,” they added “those being called are Filipinos who have overstayed their visas while in the Kingdom for Umrah or Haj or for those who contracts have been finished.” It means those OFW runaways who have pending cases with their employers for abandoning their job are not yet off the hook. Their plight depends on the employers’ coordination to provide them Exit Visas as prescribed by the host country. And it depends on how our diplomatic initiative effort works in this particular issue. Reliable sources from the Consulate inform me that they’re working on it. Thank you…
Though the main issue here is not the Government-to-Government negotiations to let our OFW in distressed leave the Kingdom but on how to accommodate those OFW runaways that keeps on flooding at our Embassy/Consulate every hours of the day.
The news item a week ago in which our Consulate personally asking Filipino community, individuals and good Samaritans to contribute something for the needs of our unfortunate OFWs are understandable enough that our Government are short of resources for their needs. This is the question that we keep on asking for many long years now, WHERE are the funds from various Government entities intended for this purpose? Why our Government cannot provide a better place for their stay, enough food to eat and things to use?
A million dollar question that keeps on reverberating in my ears as an Overseas Filipino Worker for a quite a time now…
Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Antonio Villamor is currently in Manila attending the 1st Policy Consultation of Heads of Posts. That is the reason why Kakampi-Ksa moved our “Reaching A Hand Forum” to a later date and wait for the arrival of the Ambassador back in the Kingdom.
Reading online news I found one significant outcome of the envoys consultation. The moved to amend The Migrant Workers and Overseas Employment Act of 1995 (R.A.8042) otherwise known as the Magna Carta for Migrant Workers is a very welcome idea. Present provisions of the law are not well defined that needs fine-tuning or amended a long time ago. Our envoys must focus on recommendations that add more teeth to the existing law in relation to the issue of the bilateral agreements to host nations for concrete protection of the migrant workers rights.
As we all knew that R.A. 8042 was an overnight bill of the then Pres. Fidel Ramos for the purpose of covering the worsening diplomatic relations of the country as a result of the campaign to save the life of OFW Flor Contemplacion. The making of the law was without proper consultations to the OFWs thus the export of Filipino labor force is now deregulated, meaning in the hands of private agencies or recruitment agencies with the POEA role as a mere monitoring agency.
Reengineering the said law might give more specific answers to our grievances. Resource Center and its monetary budget should be made available and not be subject to long frustrating procedure prior approval to funds availability. Male runaways in Saudi Arabia must have a permanent shelter or safehouse and be represented with competent local lawyers in their employment related labor cases. Likewise a monetary budget should be on hand in time needed to avail immediate legal services to those OFWs with criminal cases more particularly those OFWs in death rows.
Looking back in Year 2000, during the OFW Summit initiated by OFW Congress-Riyadh made the following proposals amending R.A. 8042:
1) Inclusion of the word “education” in Section 2 – Declaration of Policies, paragraph 9g ) which shall read as follows:
(g)The State recognizes the importance of the possession of skills and adequate education and information on overseas employment. Pursuant to this, the government shall intensify its skills training, education and information dissemination programs and shall establish linkages with the sectors concerned.
2) Redefinition of the term “Illegal Recruitment” to include illegal practices by licensed recruiters.
3) Adding specific prohibited recruitment-related practices.
4) Increasing penalties for illegal recruitment practices.
5) Amended Role of Government Agencies par. b.2
“The OWWA shall, in addition to its present functions, provide the OFWs and their dependents, medical and health care services, social security-type benefits and reintegration package as may be deemed appropriate. The OWWA shall likewise established, under existing laws, manage the welfare fund and utilize the same to provide social, educational and welfare services to the OFWs”.
Sad to say that we don’t need to beg for all of these to happen if political and socio-economic aspect of the OFW scenario have empowered political leadership through OFW representation in Congress – that could formulate laws and related OFW policies and programs.
In the mentioned consultation we welcome the move of the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas urging the head of posts to push for financial literacy of some 10 million Filipino overseas. end – BongA
Today’s news item in the Phil. Daily Inquirer, DOLE’s Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics Director Criselda Sy cited that Overseas Filipinos remittances have grown substantially over the last three decades. Sy said, a World Bank report in 2005 which ranked the Philippines fourth in terms of remittances from overseas nationals behind China, India and Mexico.
She also disclosed BLES’s other observations based on remittance data of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and the National Statistical Coordination Board.
.During the period 1975-2005, the yearly inflow of remittances grew by hundreds-fold, increasing from just $103 million to $10.689 billion, reflecting an average geometric growth rate of 16.7 per annum.
.While it took exactly 15 years (1975-1990) for remittances to reach $1 billion, it took just another 15 years (1991-2005) to breach $10 billion.
.Prior to 1996, the share of OFW remittances to GNP had been modest (at less than 5 percent) and almost stagnant. In 1996, the figure edged up to 5.1 percent, growing steadily until it reached 9.7 percent in 2002 and, by 2003 and onwards, to more than than 10 percent of GNP.
.Between 1999 and 2004, earnings from foreign or nonresident investors amounted to P306 billion, while total inflows of remittances reached P2.4 billion.
.In the same period, remittances were roughly one-third of the country’s earnings from its top five export products. There were about P7.4 billion in export receipts compared to P2.4 billion in remittances.
“This robust growth [of remittances] underscores the important role played by overseas employment in the growth of the nation’s economy both as a source of wealth and as a reliable source of foreign exchange that supports a stable exchange rate for the Philippine peso,” Sy said.
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.
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.