OFW groups intensify campaign vs Aquino’s AO No. 31

PROGRESSIVE overseas Filipino workers’ groups in the Middle East today vow to intensify its campaign against President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III order allowing government agencies and owned and controlled corporations to increase its fees and charges.

“OFWs will be hit hard by PNoy’s Administrative Order No. 31 considering the already numerous fees and charges collected by various government agencies in the processing and formalities of OFWs deployment abroad. Thus, PNoy administration has left us no other option than to fight back and campaign against his government’s onerous additional fees and charges to OFWs,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) regional coordinator.

Administrative Order No. 31 was signed by President Aquino III on October 1, 2012 and will ‘immediately took effect’, stated in the said order.

Migrante affiliates in the United Arab Emirates spearheaded the campaign against PNoy’s AO#31. An on-line signature campaign  http://www.petitions24.com/scrap-ao31) dubbed “SCRAP AO 31: STOP the legalization of State Exactions!” was circulated in social networking sites.

“This (referring to AO#31) practically institutionalizes more state exactions and fees imposed on OFWs when existing onerous fees are still under protest by the sector since President Aquino took office. Under Aquino, OFWs suffered more state exactions and fees throughout the whole migration cycle. 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-UAE on-line petition stated.

The group cited the attempt by PNoy administration through Philhealth hiking OFWs yearly premium contribution to P2,400 from the current P900 that got the ire and strong opposition by various OFWs groups headed by Migrante.

“Now because of AO 31, protests by OFWs can be easily ignored and brushed aside because no less than the President has ordered it.”

Aside from the impending Philhealth premium hike, other fees and tax schemes being imposed on OFWs include the affidavit of support (AOS) here in UAE. institutionalization of state exactions when welfare services for OFW have gone from bad to worse.

“Unresolved cases of OFWs continue to pile up at the POEA, National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), according to Migrante-UAE.

“PNoy’s Administrative Order No. 31 is anti-OFW, as we, OFWs and our dependents are already bleeding dry from unnecessary government fees and charges impose to us,” Monterona added.

Monterona said OFWs and their families have valid reasons to oppose PNoy’s AO#31.

“Presently, OFWs are being charged for around P15,000 to P30,000 for documentation needed for deployment formalities on top of the placement fee equivalent to 1-month salary of the deployed OFW,” Monterona enumerating the documents needed such as Authenticated Birth Certificate, NBI clearance and authentication, Authentication of school credentials, Passport application or renewal, Community tax certificates, POEA processing fee, PAG-IBIG membership fee, Philhealth premium from P900 will rise to P2,400 January next year, OWWA membership equivalent to US$25, among other expenses.”

Monterona urged fellow OFWs to sign in the online petition and hold various forms of protest actions calling for the scrapping of PNoy’s AO#31.

Meanwhile, Monterona said Migrante affiliates and networks in the Middle East congratulate the organizers of the November 28-29 Manila ‘Migrants Tribunal’, a trial pushed by grass-root migrants groups and non-government organizations on the complaints that migrant-sending and receiving-governments are perpetuating modern-day slavery.

‘We were informed that the Tribunal issued a guilty verdict to 37 migrant-sending and receiving-states, including the Philippines as one of the world top cheap labor exporters,” he added.

“The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) hidden exploitative scheme must be exposed and opposed. Migrant workers around the world must call on the international community to hold these 37 migrant-sending and receiving states accountable of their crimes against Migrant workers and members of their families and in blatant violation of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrants and members of their Famlies,” Monterona said.

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