by Migrante Saudi Arabia
Coordinator, Migrante Saudi Arabia
Balance the strong peso, scrap oil deregulation law
DOF plan too late, not enough - Migrante Saudi Arabia
"Even as we welcome recent moves by the Department of Finance to balance the strong peso by adjusting the denomination of foreign loans, we believe it still wouldn't be enough as long as prices of basic commodities continue to rise fueled by the oil deregulation law."
Thus declared A. M. Ociones, Migrante Coordinator in Saudi Arabia after DOF Secretary Margarito Teves announced on Wednesday its plan to stem the strength of peso by increasing the share of peso-denominated foreign borrowings next year to 70% from 64 percent and by issuing additional P20 million government securities.
Teves also announced plans to pay dollar loans in advance to generate savings and to reduce remmittance charges.
"Any rate lower than the present would be a death sentence to overseas Filipinos and their families (OFFs)," Ociones asserts further. "Thus we welcome any moves to stabilize the peso to its current exchange rate."
The plan, however, would not be enough to cover the 20-30% of income already lost to the overseas Filipinos since last year.
Furthermore, according to Ociones, any gains for stabilizing the peso rate would be lost to continued increase in oil prices and its consequent impact on basic commodities, goods even services.
"Therefore, stabilizing the peso should be coupled with the scrapping of the oil deregulation law to have an impact to the livelihood of OFFs," Ociones claims.
"Magagawa naman pala ito ng gobyerno, bakit ngayon lang? (The government can do it apparently, then why take action only now?)," Ociones asserts expressing the frustration of many OFs. "Why have they waited for overseas Filipinos to suffer first?"
Data from Migrante Saudi Arabia shows that in December 2006, one Saudi Riyal costs PhP14-15, but in December 2007, actual remmitance exchange rates is P10.80 per Saudi Riyal. This meant Filipinos in Saudi Arabia already lost as much as 30% of their income.
"This, unfortunately, is the mantra of the current government- to let people suffer long in agony before taking any action," Ociones laments further. "They have done it with Marilou, they have done it with the entire overseas Filipinos."
It should be recalled that Marilou Ranario, the domestic helper sentenced to death for killing her abusive employer in Kuwait waited for more than three months in jail before a lawyer was provided by the Philippine government.