Overseas Filipino workers sent home $18.6 billion from January to August 2017

 Cash remittances from Filipinos abroad continued to rise, reaching $18.6 billion in the first eight months of 2017, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas show.

This is up 5.4 percent from the $16.095 billion posted in the same period last year.

Personal remittances, which include non-cash items, climbed 6.4 percent to hit $20.7 billion from January to August 2017.

Broken down, cash sent through banks by land-based workers for the period came up to $14.7 billion, up 6 percent from 2016; sea-based workers sent home $3.9 billion, a 3.2 percent increase from last year.

The bulk of cash remittances – 82.5 percent for the first eight months of 2017 – came from the United States, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany, and Hong Kong.

In August,  money coursed through banks, reached $2.5 billion, higher by 7.8 percent from 2016.

Highest contributors were Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates, United States, Singapore, and Qatar.

In a statement, Rep. Ron P. Salo, a member of the House Committee on Economic Affairs, said this was a clear sign that the BSP was doing ” a splendid job at financial inclusion so that more Filipinos are able to avail of financial services wherever they are nationwide or overseas.”

President Rodrigo Duterte has created a bank to serve millions of overseas Filipinos and their families.

Related: Duterte creates special bank for overseas Filipinos

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 into 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.

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.

CNN Philippines Digital Producer Eimor Santos contributed to this report.