Migrante Middle East clarifies retort on expatriate benefit fund
Following is the clarification regarding a news item on the Expatriate Benefit Fund written by Ms. Lily Liboon for Khaleej Times (which was later echoed in GMA News.TV).
The article said that Labour Attaché Jeffrey D. Cortazar, head of the DOLE Help Desk Mission in Buraimi (UAE), "called on Emigrante (sic) Middle East..., to check the reports of the Commission on Audit for misappropriations instead of launching a signature campaign among the Filipino workers" adding that "Emigrante is critical of everything the government is doing..."
Dear Ms. Lily,
The news article which you have written was forwarded to me by our members. Just some point of clarifications:
1. Our organization's name is Migrante (a colloquial term which means migrant workers).
2. The members of the OWWA Board are appointed by the President, thus, this is not truly representative of the millions of OFWs, although there are 2 OWWA Board members from OFWs, sea-based and land-based. But again since they are appointed by the president, we question their impartiality and loyalty to the interests, rights and welfare of OFWs. Isn’t it right if any policy disbursement or anything regarding the OWWA funds, its stakeholders and members must be properly consulted? For your record, no single OFW or OFW organizations have been consulted that the Php2-M from OWWA funds will be appropriated to Mrs. Arroyo's bogus Expatriate Livelihood Support fund.
3. Since the OWWA fund mostly came from OFWs membership contribution of US$25, it is but fair those would like to avail should not be should not be charges with interest of 5% per annum by OWWA; besides as per the information we have received one is like passing through the eye of the needle before a displaced/retrenched OFWs could avail the Expatriates Livelihood Fund because a lot of questioning and documentation have been asked by OWWA.
4. You missed the point of what we are concerned about the allocation of Php2-M from OWWA fund to Expat Livelihood Fund; it is a valid concern since the Arroyo administration has been known to misused and misallocate the OWWA funds for her own selfish interests like the misallocation of Php500,000 plus OWWA funds to Phil Health cards that were used during her Presidential campaign in 2004.
That is why we say, thanks but no thanks to Arroyo's bogus Expat Livelihood Fund/Programme.
To Labor Attache Jefrey Cortazar: He must dig himself about this OWWA fund misuses and misallocation so that he would know. If Migrante, OFWs and their families are critical to the Arroyo administration it is because it has done nothing good for OFWs and their families, only to impose additional charges and fees and program aimed to corner OFWs huge remittances and funds held in trust to the government. In fact, many OWWA social and welfare programs have been removed since the passage of the OWWA Omnibus Policies.
I am hoping that as we are responsible journalist, you would publish my points as stated above to have balanced news coverage and fair views.
Your support and cooperation is highly appreciated.
For OFWs rights and Welfare.
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East Regional coordinator.