Monday, October 13, 2008

PMEPC: a waste of taxpayer's money

Press Release

13 October 2008

Funding the extended operation of PMEPC is just a waste of taxpayer's money

Extending the operation of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) up to December 31, 2008 and funding its extended operations amounting to Php.3-million is just a waste of taxpayer's money," today said by Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of OFW organizations based in the Middle East as a reaction to the extension of the operations of the PMEPC under the Office of the President.

"The Php.3 million is of better use if it will be spent on the airfare tickets of thousands stranded and distress OFWs in the Middle East waiting for their repatriation so that they could be re-united with their loved ones this Christmas," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

On September 19, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, in behalf of the President, has signed Executive Order No. 752 extending the duration of operation of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Committee (PMEPC) to December 31, 2008.

Migrante-ME said the Arroyo administration is funding the extended operations of PMEPC that has been idle for a long time and which very existence is not anymore needed and sought.

Migrante-ME is questioning the justification cited EO 752: "in view of volatile political situation in the Middle East", thus it is saying there is a need to extend the operations of PMEPC.

Migrante-ME noted that it is in fact the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) that is considering to recommend to the President the lifting of deployment ban in Iraq and Lebanon as its "peace and order situation is becoming more stable", but said it still waiting for the official advise from the Department of Foreign Affairs based on its assessment on the political situation in Iraq and Lebanon.

"It shows that the DFA could not come up with an objective assessment on the political situations in Iraq and Lebanon; not actually on the whole Middle East", Monterona added.

Migrante-Middle East said EO 752 allows the PMEPC to ask "additional financial requirements that it may be needed" which shall be sourced out by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) from available funds of the concerned PMEPC member-agencies such as the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment and other government-agencies attached to it.

"We are raising serious apprehension on the wordings of EO 752 allowing PMEPC to ask additional financial requirements it may be needed which the DBM is task to source out the available funds. In such wordings, the Php.10-billion OWWA trust fund, a US$25 compulsory membership of OFWs to OWWA, is not safe for the use of PMEPC," Monterona claimed.

Migrante-ME noted that during the U.S. "war of aggression" to Iraq, the Arroyo administration has funded the PMEPC an amount of US$293,500 intended for the repatriation of OFWs that never took placed. The said amount was taken from OWWA trust fund which until now remained un-audited.

Migrante-ME ended saying "The migrant-sending and receiving governments that have unanimously selected the Arroyo administration to host the Manila 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development on October 28, 2008, made the right choice: the Arroyo administration as a clear example of a negligible government remiss on its state responsibility to OFWs who are keeping the Philippine economy afloat." # # #

For reference:

John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012

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