By Leslie Ann Aquino
Global alliance of overseas Filipinos Migrante International has called for the immediate scrapping of the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law.
The group said the new taxation scheme “hits the OFWs and families hard” because it reduces the value of monthly OFW remittance by P3,000.
Based on the recent study of Migrante, the average OFW monthly remittance of P20,000 will have a reduction in value of P3,000 because of the decrease in the purchasing power of the peso due to record-high inflation and currency depreciation.
It cited government data which revealed that the value of P1.00 is now only 0.85 cents compared to its value in 2012.
“Duterte’s TRAIN will force OFWs and their families to tighten their belts further and take on severe austerity measures to conserve their remittances. Many will be forced to do overtime and do side jobs to increase their earnings while their families in the Philippines will have to reduce their spendings or find additional sources of income,” said Arman Hernando, Chairperson of Migrante Philippines, in a statement.
According to Migrante, OFWs and applicants looking for overseas work will also suffer the brunt of increased fees of government-issued certificates, particularly those issued by the Philippine Statistics Administration (PSA) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) which are essential documents for overseas employment.
PSA and NBI imposed their new schedule of fees due to TRAIN last February 2 and March 12 respectively, increasing their charges by P15.
The study also revealed that the Duterte administration, from overseas Filipinos alone, will generate P9 billion annually from the increased rate of the documentary stamp tax on remittances and at least P100 million every year from the increased charges for birth certificate, NBI clearance, CENOMAR and various other documents.
“We can no longer expect the current regime to work on improving social services and spurring countryside development through genuine agrarian reform since the bulk of the budget goes to debt-servicing, importation of construction materials for his pro-elite projects such as the Build, Build, Build. Duterte has already allocated hundreds of billions more from the national budget to intensify his atrocious wars against the urban poor, peasants, Lumads and Moros. Sobra na! Tama na!” Hernando said.
The group is preparing to join next week’s United People’s SONA on July 23 to protest against what it calls “Duterte’s neoliberal and fascist attacks on the people.”
Also joining the United People’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) are workers dissatisfied with Duterte’s alleged “anti-worker” regime.
“Not only has he failed his promise to end contractualization, worse, he has enacted policies that has led to mass lay-offs of contractual workers, further pressed down wages through unabated price hikes and has brutally attacked trade union and human rights,” the Kilusang Mayo Uno said in a statement.
Duterte’s Executive Order 51 and DOLE Order 174, they said did not end contractualization.
“The government remains futile against big corporations’ refusal to implement regularization orders and has even condoned the mass lay-offs of contractual workers to evade regularization as in the case of the 12,000 laid-off PLDT workers,” the group said.
KMU also lamented how there has also been no significant wage hike under Duterte despite the increase in the prices of basic goods and services.
“Duterte has openly rejected our demand for a National Minimum Wage that aims to cease the regionalize wage setting and increase the current minimum wage levels to 750 pesos per day for all workers across the country,” said the group.
“With his failed promises, oppressive policies and brutal attacks on labor and human rights, amidst years of engagements and series of dialogues with the government, it has become clearer that Duterte’s promise of change only means worsening hunger, poverty and oppression to Filipino workers,” they added.