MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Saturday, August 29, urged overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families to choose wisely in the coming elections.
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte made the statement in an interview on state-run Radyo ng Bayan, in response to Migrante Party-list’s “Zero Vote” campaign against administration bets in 2016.
The move is a proposed follow-up to the OFW sector’s “Zero Remittance Day” in protest of the Bureau of Customs’ botched balikbayan box rules.
“Ang inaasahan lang po natin ay, siyempre, mababase po ito sa plataporma, mababase po ito doon sa ano po ba ‘yung ikagaganda pa ng ating bansa, at ‘yung ikabubuti pa ho ng buhay ng ating mga pamilya,” Valte said, when asked about the new effort.
(What we only expect is, of course, votes will be based on platform. Based on what will help our country, and what will help benefit your families.)
She said that like any other Filipino voter, OFWs have the freedom to choose their candidates in 2016.
“Kalayaan po natin lahat ‘yan, kung paano po natin sasalain ang ating mga kandidato (Everyone has the freedom to decide on how to screen their candidates),” Valte said.
‘Force to reckon with’
The “Zero Vote” move was spurred by the successful clamor of OFWs against the BOC’s tighter balikbayan box screening, which was overturned by President Benigno Aquino III days ahead of Zero Remittance Day.
Migrante Partylist encouraged OFWs to turn their zero remittance protest into a “Zero Vote” campaign during the 2016 elections.
“The migrant sector is a force to reckon with. Those who have insulted us will feel the brunt of OFWs and their families’ ire this coming election season,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Partylist chairperson.
“We have millions of overseas absentee voters, we have millions of relatives back home who are voters. Let today’s Zero Remittance Day serve as a preview of the migrant sector’s unity come election time,” she added.
When asked, Valte said Malacañang did not monitor the impact of the supposed one-day remittance holiday on the economy, since remittances are monitored on a monthly, and not a daily, basis.
“We did not ask for a report on that,” she said in Filipino.
Valte also said OFWs are free to express their concerns on government policies through social media, or through media interviews, if they wish.
In 2014 alone, OFW remittances amounted to $27 billion. (READ: Which countries sent the most OFW remittances?) – Rappler.com