How presidential bets plan to solve NAIA, balikbayan box issues

Don Kevin Hapal
How presidential bets plan to solve NAIA, balikbayan box issues
We list down how each of the presidential candidates plans to solve the major issues that overseas Filipinos faced in 2015

(Part 2 of 3)

(Part 1: #OFWVote: Presidential bets on solving illegal recruitment, abuse)

(Part 3: ‘How presidential bets plan to empower OFWs‘ )

MANILA, Philippines – 2015 was a bumpy ride for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Mary Jane Veloso, a victim of human trafficking, barely made it through death row after receiving a last-minute reprieve from the Indonesian government. A few months later, the Bureau of Customs found itself on the receiving end of OFWs’ fury, after one of its commissioners emphasized the need to open the balikbayan boxes for inspection angering OFWs who accuse customs inspectors of stealing from their boxes. And barely a month after, reports of bullet-planting in airports again rattled OFWs and travelling Filipinos.

As the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) kicks off, let’s take a look at how the presidential candidates plan to solve these major issues, based on the platforms they shared with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC):

Corrupt airport staff and officials 

Jejomar Binay

  1. Installation of more CCTV cameras including in the tarmac area. Place closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras with microphone in critical areas like the x-ray area, immigration booth, including the secondary inspection room, etc.
  2. Have a single agency in charge of airport operations and security.
  3. Thorough review of mandates, functions, and performance of all government agencies connected with airport management, especially those created through executive orders.
  4. File cases against erring officials. Remove them immediately through administrative procedure.

Rodrigo Duterte

  1. Implement stronger security procedures at airport terminals (e.g. more CCTV cameras to all stations; additional police personnel, etc.)
  2. Strict enforcement of command responsibility in all government offices. 
  3. Create a task force that will investigate illicit activities of state agents and enforce stronger sanctions againts those involves; if it is proven that a syndicate is behind the illicit activities, all officials and employees connected to Civil Aviation Authority of the Phillipines (CAAP) and aviation command, including porter services shall necessarily be relieved from duty. 
  4. Establish a quick response public emergency system in airport terminals to provide free legal assistance and guidance to passengers.
  5. Intensify information campaign to provent innocent passengers from falling prey to the supposed corrupt schemes among airport officials and staff.

Grace Poe

  1. Enforce necessary legal punishments, suspend erring officials or immediately terminate them if they are proven, after due process, to have illegally engaged in extension schemes.
  2. Create a reporting hotline specifically for OFWs and their kin which should be their first and main go-to system if they know they are engaging with or have encountered corrupt airport officials and staff.
  3. Intensify surveillance and monitoring systems, and create third-party councils to objectively and swiftly litigate cases raised against corrupt officials.

Mar Roxas

  1. Thoroughly investigate allegations and immediately convict those found guilty. 
  2. Perform yearly performance assessments and evaluation of airport officials and staff must be undertaken, regardless of whether allegations surface or not. Integrity, knowledge, and a true desire to serve will be the foremost criteria in the selection and appointment or hiring of public servants – from the highest levels of office down to the most basic units of the bureaucracy.

Miriam Defensor Santiago

  1. Strictly enforce laws and remove corrupt or incompetent officials from office. 

Imposition of tax and custom duties on balikbayan boxes

Jejomar Binay

  1. Full support for raising the ceiling of dutiable value of balikbayan boxes that contain personal and household effects of OFWs
  2. Increase conditionally-free and duty-exempt importation for returning OFWs

Rodrigo Duterte

  1. Sustain strict adherence to RA 9174: Balikbayan boxes classified as non-commercial worth USD2,000 and below, should be tax-free and custom duty-free.
  2. Stricter control measure to prevent abuse of tax exemption; review and standardize procedures in determining contents and worth of boxes.
  3. Revisit all existing policies on balikbayan boxes and ensure that the same should be favorable to all OFWs.

Grace Poe

  1. Poe’s two positions on the balikbayan boxes issue: (a) BoC or any agency will not ‘physically open’ the Balikbayan Boxes for inspection, and (b) There will be no additional taxes and duties imposed.
  2. Observe the existing legal parameters set in Section 105 of the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines, which states Balikbayans/OFWs are entitled to Duty and Tax Free Privileges.
  3. Support passage of the current bill filed by Senator Ralph Recto, Senate Bill No. 2913 or the Balikbayan Box Law, proposing to raise the non-taxable value of contents for Balikbayan Boxes to P150,000. 
  4. To resolve revenue losses form smuggling, refocus the efforts of BoC to big smugglers and not on intrusive “selective opening” of boxes
  5. Invest more on technological maintenance and upgrading of X-ray scanners which should eliminate manual inspection – from small boxes to 40-by-20 feet shipping containers.

Mar Roxas

  1. Remove the 0.15% documentary stamp tax on OFW remittances, thus exempting all money transfers to the Philippines made by OFWs who are duly registered with the POEA, while setting aside collections to provide legal support to protect OFWs, especially for those imprisoned or facing case abroad. 
  2. Sustain protection of the balikbayan box via inspection – review the existing jurisdiction on the memorandum circular on balikbayan boxes, immediately assess the BOC officials who conduct the physical inspection, and reevaluate the standards for custom inspection.

Miriam Defensor Santiago

  1. Strictly enforce laws and regulations for bringing in goods and personal effects for qualified returning residents. 
  2. Congress should review if balikbayan boxes unaccompanied by returning residents should be taxed.

High placement fee

Jejomar Binay

  1. Enforce the One-Month Placement Fee rule through regular Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA)/Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) inspection of recruitment agencies, incentives for applicants to report excessive placement fees.
  2. Amend the Anti-Wire Tapping Act to allow applicants to record their conversation with representatives of recruitment agencies. 
  3. Provide more inspectors who will regularly check compliance of agencies. 
  4. Encourage potential migrants to go through correct process and government approved agencies
  5. Establish better grievance mechanism for reporting malpractices.

Rodrigo Duterte

  1. Regulate and lessen placement fees especially for OFWs who are required to comply with numerous training courses that entail high costs (e.g. seafarers).
  2. Given the general low awareness of placement fees, better information and dissemination programs shall be instituted to promote awareness and to empower OFWs to report exorbitant fees collected from them.
  3. Ensure enforcement of existing goverment laws limiting the amount of placement fees and prosecute violating agencies and/or erring government enforcers.

Grace Poe

  1. Study and pursue possibilities to standardize the “placement fees” charged by the recruitment agencies to prevent overchanging and solicitation of other unnecessary fees from the applicant.
  2. Make the resolution of the cases file swift and definitive, with no opportunity for corruption.

Mar Roxas

  1. Continue and expand the Aquino administration’s measures to abolish, or reduce, high placement fees for OFWs.
  2. Negotiations will be undertaken with receiving countries in order to lower or waive placement fees. While these efforts are ongoing, a proposal will be crafted, and eventually negotiated in order to establish the segmented payment of placement fees – allowing Filipinos to work immediately, without the delay of being caught in placement fee liabilities.

Miriam Defensor Santiago

  1. Rather than overburdening OFWs with indecent placement fees, OFWs will be assisted by their government by collecting minimal fees and by streamlining other requirements (i.e. the OEC). The number of steps needed to be able to work abroad will be reduced drastically. 
  2. To reduce the costs of obtaining the required permits by OFWs by going to Manila, the processing of documents will be deconcentrated to regional offices.

Are you an OFW? What are your thoughts on the candidates’ platforms? Tell us in the comments section! – Rappler.com

Which candidate matches your stand on issues? Find out here.

 

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.