Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. today urged the government to put up a contingency plan to provide alternative ways to enable Overseas Filipino Workers to continue remitting their earnings in case more local banks close their remittance shops abroad.
“The government should immediately put up a contingency plan to cushion the impact of possible shut down of more money transfer operations abroad to help our OFWs,” Marcos said.
Marcos aired the call following the warning of the Department of Finance of possible closure of remittance shops of local banks abroad after the Philippines was involved in the $81 million Bangladesh Bank cyber heist.
DOF Secretary Cesar Purisima had bared that several foreign banks have recently closed accounts of money transfer operators that service OFWs and if the trend continues OFWs might have to pay double for sending their money to their families here in the Philippines.
Marcos cited reports that Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), where the $81 million fund was funneled, and the Bank of the Philippine Islands were forced to close shops in Rome and Milan.
Although it was claimed that the closure was not related to the money-laundering scandal, Marcos said the timing is alarming and should prompt the DOF to ready possible measures to assist OFWs in case the remittance situation worsens.
“We call our OFWs our modern day heroes because their remittances are the main driving force of our economy. We must do everything possible to ensure our OFWs would be able to send their money home easily and without added cost, as much as possible,” said Marcos.
The DOF had sought the amendment of Republic Act No. 9160, or the Anti-Money Laundering Act to show to foreign banks that OFW money should not be confused with dirty money. However, Marcos said this could take some time.
“Until the law is amended what would be the recourse of our OFWs in case more remittance centers abroad close shop? They can avail of reputable private online money transfer services but we should at least provide them with information and guidelines to prevent them from falling victim to fraudulent online schemes,” said Marcos.