19 February 2009
Sec. Roque's believer admits OWWA funds is now Php.10-B
But DoLE-OWWA has only few programs and services for OFWs and their families, migrant group said
Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers' organizations in the Middle East today said a Philippine labor official admitted that the OWW funds is now P10-B, a compulsory collection of US$25 per departing overseas Filipino workers.
"This is the first time we heard a confirmation from a Labor official about the exact amount of the OFWs funds held in trust to the government; we have been challenging the OWWA for quite some time now to make full public disclosure of the funds but the OWWA administration refuses to do so," said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.
Monterona said during a visit in Dubai the other day of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Help Desk Mission head Labor Attache Jeffrey D. Cortazar is quoted saying "… the OFW funds has doubled within a year under Labor Secretary Marianito Roque from Php.5-B to Php.1-B…X X X"
Monterona said it is naïve and wrong to equate that the increase of OWWA funds is due to the appointment of Mr. Roque as DoLE chief.
"Obviously, Labatt Cortazar, a faithful believer of Sec. Roque trying hard to impress the latter, does not know what he is talking about. The increase of the OFW funds from Php5-B to Php10-B now has nothing to do, if no connection at all, with the appointment of Labor Sec. Roque. The mere fact that there are 3,000 OFWs deployed daily with OWWA charging US25$ per OFWs would certainly lead to the increase of OWWA funds," Monterona added.
Monterona said fellow OFWs have commented that following the line of Labatt Cortazar that it is to the credit of Sec. Roque why the OWWA funds grew, then Wall Street should hire Sec. Roque as it is only within a year he made the OWWA funds grew even twice.
"This is precisely the point why Migrante is alarmed as the OWWA funds continuously grew because of the huge numbers of departing OFWs going abroad and yet there are only few welfare and social programs and services for OFWs and their families," Monterona said.
"If the Arroyo administration does not have a selfish interests to the growing OFW funds held in trust to the OWWA, why it failed to develop and implement more welfare and social programs to the benefits of active OFWs, retired OFWs and their families amid the economic hardship with all prices of basic commodities and services increasing almost daily," Monterona queried.
Monterona said OFWs and their families are dismayed with Arroyo's Expatriate Livelihood support funds asking a lot of requirements and imposing a 5% interest per year to the meager Php50,000 loan for each laid offs OFWs.
"These are reasons why many of the retrenched OFWs until now have not availed the Expat livelihood funds and are not willing to avail at all," Monterona added.
Migrante chapters in the Middle East are urging fellow OFWs who were laid off or will be laid off to get in touch with them, "so that Migrante could provide them the needed assistance and guidance in their claims for a genuine financial support and other assistance that OWWA is to provide to them," Monteorona added.
"Retrenched OFWs who are already in the Philippines could get in touch with Migrante International at telephone number +62 421 0768, or email migrantecampaign@ gmail.com, or send email to migranteme@gmail. com," Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante Middle East regional coordinator
Mobile No.: 00966 564 97 8012