Duterte creates special bank for overseas Filipinos

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FILE PHOTO. President Rodrigo Duterte poses with overseas Filipinos outside a hotel in Auckland, New Zealand on November 22, 2016.

Updated on October 11 to include statement from Migrante International

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 10) — President Rodrigo Duterte created a bank that will serve millions of overseas Filipinos  and their families.

Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) 44 on Sept. 28, which paves the way for the Land Bank of the Philippines to acquire Philippine Postal Savings Bank (PPSB).

The order states PPSB will be converted to the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB).

"There is a need to establish a policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirements of overseas Filipinos, and focused on delivering quality and efficient foreign remittance services," according to EO 44.

EO 44 was published in in the Official Gazette, the government's website, which makes it official.

There are 10.2 million Filipinos worldwide as of 2013, according to the latest estimate of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas. Most of them are working or living in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

A group of overseas Filipinos, however, the creation of OFB does not address the issue of forced migration.

"Instead of providing a comprehensive and genuine economic program that decisively deviates from a policy of labor export and focuses on creating domestic jobs to end the cycle of forced migration, Duterte's economic compulsion is to keep exporting Filipinos to maintain or, especially, to increase, concentrate and manage remittances," Migrante International said in a statement on Tuesday.

Should there be "OFW banks," the group said, "these should ensure that OFWs' hard-earned money are invested towards genuine rural development and national industrialization that will create jobs at home and end the vicious cycle of forced migration."

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in July, when he announced the October inauguration of the OFB, that the President's ultimate goal is to get all overseas Filipinos home "by providing good jobs with good pay."

He said the government is targeting to create 12 million jobs by the end of Duterte's term in 2022.

Duterte to appoint 3 bank Board members

Duterte said the PPSB, a subsidiary of government-run Philippine Postal Corp. which focuses on developing the rural financial sector, is "strategically equipped" to cater to the needs of overseas Filipinos and their families.

Land Bank, a government-owned and controlled corporation, will provide capital to the OFB.

The bank will have nine directors. The Land Bank president will be OFB chairman and the OFB president will be vice chairman. Of the remaining seven directors, Duterte will appoint three members each representing the Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and overseas Filipinos.

According to EO 44, PPSB officers "who voluntarily elect to be retired or may be separated from the service" will receive retirement incentives, in addition to separation benefits.