Press Release
February 24, 2016


Leading presidential contender Sen. Grace Poe is pushing for credit assistance and tax incentives for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who would go into business, saying this would encourage migrants to participate in the local economy.

Bringing her campaign to La Union, one of the biggest OFW-sending provinces in the Philippines, Poe said her "Gobyernong may Puso" will have a strategic roadmap that will give OFWs not only prospects for future employment or enterprise-building but also a solid life track for building and enjoying their resources.

"Our OFWs leave the country with the hope that when they come back, they will have the financial capacity to stay," Poe noted. "We should encourage and support the dreams of our migrants to be reintegrated in our society."

Poe said labor agencies, together with private businesses, can help in building OFWs' capacity for entrepreneurship and OFW families' skills for personal financial management.

According to 2014 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, only 35 percent of OFWs have savings. Most OFW families lack the knowhow to grow their capital or stretch their resources beyond meeting basic needs.

In La Union, where 6.2 percent of La Union's population aged 20 and above is working overseas, remittances contribute a fifth of total household income. The province has the highest share of households that are highly dependent on remittances, the International Labour Organization said in its La Union Strategic Migration and Development Plan.

Poe said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration should intensify its information and education drive in La Union's barangays to ensure that locals do not fall in the hands of illegal recruiters.

"We want overseas work to be a matter of choice and not compulsion," Poe said. "However, we also have to ensure that Filipinos who do want to go abroad are well-informed about their rights and the realities in their destination countries."

Poe said the government could also look into giving OFWs certain privileges in retail establishments, such as what senior citizens enjoy, and study the feasibility of easing taxes on specific OFW investments.

"We should encourage, support and incentivize domestic investment decisions of our OFWs and their families, especially in real estate, capital market, insurance investments, and other asset-building initiatives," she said.

In 2013, Poe filed Senate Bill 1421 seeking to establish a credit assistance program for OFWs with valid employment contracts. The senator proposed that OFWs be allowed to avail of a P50,000 loan from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to defray the living expenses of their families in the first few months of their absence.

Poe will be in La Union with her running mate, Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, the vice presidential race frontrunner, and the senatorial bets of their coalition, Partido Galing at Puso. The tandem visited Bontoc and Baguio City on Tuesday, where they held Partido Galing at Puso's first political rally in the north.

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