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Hard-fought victory for OFWs in new anti-OFW legislation

THE DOCUMENTARY STAMP TAX (DST) on OFW remittances has been scrapped with the passage of Republic Act 10022, which amended RA 8042 (the Migrant workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995). To be sure, this will provide some relief for low-income OFWs, especially for construction workers and domestic helpers who constitute this sector’s majority.

On this, we congratulate ourselves and all our fellow OFWs. Migrante International and its chapters in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe and America, along with various Filipino organizations and individual OFWs around the world, were in the heart of the intensified campaign and mass actions initiated to scrap the DST. If not for our efforts, the law would not have been passed. Because of our efforts, many members of Congress realized that the DST was an additional burden on OFWs.

However, although it removed the DST, RA 10022 is really anti-OFW. It has many provisions that go against the interests, rights and welfare of OFWs and their dependents.

Like RA 8042, the new law is anchored on government’s bias for exporting cheap Filipino labor. It allows government to further institutionalize and intensify its labor export program without guarantees that the OFWs’ interests, rights and welfare will be protected by the governments of host countries. RA 10022 also allows government to impose additional fees that will bleed OFWs dry of their earnings. It also absolves employers and recruiters from responsibility for the OFWs’ well-being, rights and welfare—a responsibility government had passed on to them through RA 8042. With RA 10022, government has totally abandoned its primary duty to protect the interests, rights and welfare of OFWs from exploitative recruitment agencies.

In short, RA 10022 is essentially not for migrant workers. Anchored on the neo-liberal policies of globalization, liberalization, privatization and deregulation, it prioritizes the interest of private businesses over that of the working people.

President Macapagal-Arroyo played safe by not signing the bill, opting instead to allow it to lapse into law, so that she would not be blamed. But many of the pro-Arroyo lawmakers voted for the passage of RA 10022.


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:04:00 05/05/2010

JOHN LEONARD MONTERONA,

migranteme@gmail.com


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