Saturday, January 24, 2009

P250-M Expat Livelihood Support Fund must be properly accounted

Press Release
24 January 2009

P250-M Expat Livelihood Support Fund must be properly accounted,
Migrant group demands full disclosure of claims and beneficiaries

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of Overseas Filipino workers' organizations based in the Middle East today said it is demanding from the Arroyo administration full disclosure of claims and beneficiaries of the P250-M Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund, and thus must openly and properly account the money sourced from OWWA fund.

"We are demanding from the Arroyo administration full disclosure of claims and beneficiaries of this P250-M Expat Livelihood Fund taken from the P10-B OWWA funds held in trust to the government, just to be sure that the money will go through the intended beneficiaries and not to the pockets of corrupt officials," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Migrante-ME said that an independent body to look into the disbursement of said funds must be created including church-based organizations with migrant-related programs and leading OFW organization's representatives.

On December 4, 2008, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed Administrative Order No. 248 that created a special livelihood program fund for returning expatriates presumably "to help those who might return home from their host countries that are now being buffeted by an economic crisis whose depth and scope is still unraveling".

"The 10-Millions OFWs scattered around the world are the real owners of the OWWA funds who have been charged of US$25 compulsory membership fees. Thus, OFWs as stakeholders of the OWWA funds have the all rights to demand full disclosure how the P250-M will be spent by a government that is perceived corrupt," Monterona added.

AO 248 mentioned that the Expat Livelihood Support fund is a 'pay back time' by the government for OFWs, but Monterona averred that the laid off OFWs in Taiwan claimed that the Arroyo regime until now did not give them any support.

According to Migrante International, a numbers of OFWs laid off from Taiwan were invited to Malacanang last December 2008, and were handed cheques over a photo opportunity session with Mrs. Arroyo, but right after the said activity, the cheques were taken from them.

"That's a very ridiculous thing the Arroyo administration did to the struggling OFWs who were laid off from jobs who were duped by Mrs. Arroyo's spin-doctors for the sake of its own publicity; it was an insult adding to laid off OFWs' injury," Monterona averred.

Monterona said that incident led them to believed that Mrs. Arroyo's "pay back time" implementing the Expat Livelihood Support program with P250-M funds taken from OFWs funds held in thrust to OWWA is just a waste of OFWs money.

Nevertheless, he said Migrante chapters around the world and other OFWs organizations will be vigilant how the P250-M fund taken from OWWA funds will be spent by the Arroyo administration.

"This time, we would like to be sure that these huge amount will not be siphoned to the big pockets of perceived corrupt officials under the Arroyo administration. P250-M is a juicy amount to run a campaign come 2010 National elections," Monterona ended. # # #

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

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