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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, September 2, 2020
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Duterte announces education
subsidy for OFW dependents


President Rodrigo Duterte said an education subsidy will be given to dependents of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced, repatriated, or died due to coronavirus disease 2019.

“The education subsidy will be given to one college-level beneficiary from a qualified OFW enrolled or is intending to enroll in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges, and Commission on Higher Education-recognized private higher education institutions in this school year 2020,” Duterte said in a public address late Monday.

He said the government will allocate P1 billion for the subsidy which will be a one-time grant of P30,000 for 33,000 student-beneficiaries.

“The project will be allotted with the amount of one billion, which will benefit about 33,000 students from 33 OFW families," he added.

The President said the subsidy is a project of the CHED and the United Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) in collaboration with the Department of Labor and Employment.

In May, Duterte appealed to schools to offer staggered or installment payment options for students, recognizing how their parents are “hard-pressed” financially due to the community quarantine brought about by the Covid-19.

He also ordered the state-run Land Bank of the Philippines to provide loans to students, especially those who could not afford to pay their tuition at all.

He assured parents who may have lost their jobs due to the pandemic that their children would still be able to pay their tuition with loans offered by the Land Bank.

The Land Bank currently offers a "study-now-play-later" loan to cover the tuition and other enrollment-related fees of eligible students.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to limit charges and provide discounts on remittance fees shouldered by OFWs hurdled committee level at the House of Representatives yesterday.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved House Bill 826, or the proposed “Overseas Filipino Workers Remittance Protection Act”.

Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., the principal author of the bill, stressed the need to enact a law that will effectively put a stop to the high remittance charges and safeguard the remittances sent by OFWs.

“Those OFW remittances are transferred from the OFWs to the intermediaries, such as financial and non-bank financial institutions, before the money reaches the beneficiaries," Gonzales said. “In the course of the transfer of the funds, the amount remitted is subjected to several fees and high remittance charges which result in the depletion of the amount to be remitted and received by beneficiaries."

Under the bill, financial intermediaries and non-bank financial intermediaries may impose fees for services rendered in the money remittance of OFWs to the immediate family members, subject to a 50-percent discount regardless of the amount.

All establishments providing discounts on remittance fees may claim the discounts granted as a tax deduction based on the cost of services rendered to OFWs.

The bill noted that the total deduction from the gross income of establishments providing discounts on remittance fees should not exceed P24,000 per OFW every taxable year.

All financial intermediaries and non-bank financial intermediaries offering remittance services to OFWs are prohibited from raising their current remittance fees without consultation with the Department of Finance, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

The bill proposes a mandatory financial education program to be provided to OFWs and their families to educate them in the handling of their earnings and remittances.*PNA


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