Envoy reminds PH: 43% of OFW remittances come from US

MANILA, Philippines – Outgoing United States Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg on Friday, October 21, said he cannot understand Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's push for an "economic separation" from the United States.

Goldberg said the economies of the Philippines and the US, after all, remain "very much linked."

He cited remittances from US-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) as an example.

Goldberg said, "43% of the remittances from abroad from OFWs go through the United States, or originate in the United States."

He continued: "There are 3 and a half million Filipino-Americans. I'm sure there are many people in the studio with American relatives, friends, who have studied in the US."

Goldberg also said: "The United States is the largest private foreign investor in the Philippines. The largest private employer is an American company. The largest exporter is an American company. The markets in the United States are very much tied to the markets here."

'National tragedy'

Data from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in fact, show that the US is the Philippines' third largest trading partner, next to Japan and China.

Trade between Manila and Washington amounts to $16.491 billion favoring the Philippines, according to a fact sheet provided by the DFA in September.

At the same time, the US continues to host 5,997,330 Filipinos.

The President's recent statements have fueled fears for the plight of the country's economy. Duterte on Thursday said in China, "I announce my separation from the United States, both in military but economics also."

Goldberg on Friday stressed, however, that the the US has a "solid and solemn commitment" to the Philippines in both economic and military terms.

"I don't know what separation means quite frankly, because we are so inextricably linked," he said.

Goldberg added, "These discordant notes that we hear, we can’t ignore them, but at the same time we need clarification about what they mean."

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Friday also reacted to Duterte's US policy, calling it a "national tragedy." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.