News from home: Growing remittances, lengthy airport immigration interviews

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
News from home: Growing remittances, lengthy airport immigration interviews
Vendors clean various seafood products up for sale at a market in Quezon City on March 17, 2023.
STAR / Jesse Bustos

MANILA, Philippines — From a report that shows the growth of remittances despite global headwinds to the reason behind lengthy airport immigration interviews – these were among our headlines and news stories from the past week we think you should know if you’re a Filipino based abroad.

Overseas Filipinos

  • Money sent home by OFWs went up by 3.5% year-on-year in January with $2.76 billion despite a projected global recession and inflation, among other challenges faced by the global economy. An economist expects a “robust growth” in remittances this year as with better economic prospects. 

    Nearly half or 41.9% of the remittances were sent from the United States, while the rest of the total were traced back from Singapore, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Taiwan, Qatar and Malaysia.

  • The Bureau of Immigration has apologized to a Filipino passenger who missed her flight due to a long screening process in the airport. BI is conducting stricter interviews after the bureau noted a rise of young professionals being deceived by trafficking scams, particularly the cryptocurrency schemes in nearby Asian countries. 

Work and the economy

  • Calls for wage hikes continue amid a rapidly increasing inflation rate. A bill is filed at the House of Representatives seeking for a P750 across-the-board increase for workers in all private sector industries to help workers cope. 

    Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri filed to increase the minimum wage of private sector workers across the country by P150, but Senate labor panel chairman Jinggoy Estrada noted that the interests of the workers and employers should be balanced “to ensure job preservation and job creation.”

  • The House of Representatives has approved on final reading the National Government Rightsizing Act, which would reorganize, streamline or abolish government agencies deemed redundant. Makabayan bloc lawmakers raised concerns as if this would be implemented, it might leave a huge number of workers unemployed.

Politics and the nation

  • There is still a big number of Filipino adults who do not want to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a recent poll by the Social Weather Stations showed. An estimated 69% of the 9.5 million unvaccinated adult Filipinos still refuse to get the shot and only 12% are willing to get vaccinated against the virus.

    Only six percent of the 41.14 million Filipino adults who are fully vaccinated said they have received their second booster. 

  • House lawmakers also approved on third and final reading a bill that would introduce amendments to the 1987 Constitution, just a week after they approved the resolution to call for a constitutional convention. Among possible changes of an updated Charter is the the lifting of restrictions related to foreign ownership, among other economic provisions.

  • The Supreme Court imposed an increase in the Bar admission fee, now requiring P5,000 from P3,750 to cover higher operational costs and other expenses related to logistics. The new fee will be imposed on those who passed to 2022 Bar examinations. 

  • Oil continues to leak from the sunken MT Princess Empress, with the UP Marine Science Institute forecasting that the spill may concentrate in Calapan city in Oriental Mindoro from March 20 to 22. It also noted that it is “critical to stop the seepage… otherwise more critical biodiversity areas along the Verde Island Passage may be affected.” 

    As of Sunday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council logged 149,503 individuals affected by the oil spill with 189 reported ill – some feeling abdominal pain, dizziness, and trouble breathing, among other health issues. 

  • The Philippines was ranked among countries with "repressed" civic spaces in the Asia-Pacific region, based on the 2022 annual report by CIVICUS Monitor. The group noted the continued harassment of journalists back home, including the cyber attacks on news websites, as well as arrests of activists and human rights defenders on fabricated charges.

  • Over five years since a "war on drugs" operation killed two teenagers, a former policeman was served a guilty verdict for being responsible for their deaths. Dismissed police officer Jeffrey Perez was sentenced to up to 40 years behind bars without being eligible for parole on top of paying for damages to the families of the murdered teens.

    This is the second known murder conviction of police officers involved in the "drug war" operations of the previous administration, with the first being the case of another slain teenager – Kian delos Santos.

You can view last week’s rundown here or sign up for the newsletter here

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