Saturday, August 22, 2009

GMA Appointment, Threat to OWWA Funds

Press Release
20 August 2009

Arroyo’s appointment of her own “trusted man” in the OWWA-BoT threatens the 11.7-B OWWA fund;
OFW group urging fellow OFWs to oppose such high-handed political pay off

“It’s no surprise at all that Gloria MAcapagal-Arroyo will appoint her “trusted men” and will continue to appoint until her term ended or even beyond if her plans to remain in power succeeded paying off his loyal allies; even the welfare-based government agency like OWWA is not spared from her undemocratic political appointments,” thus declared today by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional coordinator.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East is reacting to the “mid-night” appointment, devoid of democratic consultations from OFWs and their organizations, of Mr. Joselito “Jojo” Sapio as land-based representative to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-Board of Trustee.

“This appointment made by Mrs. Arroyo is again hounded by controversies like many appointments she had made; it only spells out her undemocratic appointment of OFW representation to the OWWA, an government agency directly financed and funded by the millions of OFWs from their US$25 contribution,” Monterona added.

Monterona said appointing someone close to her and who had helped her cheat and win the 2004 Presidential elections threatens the 11.7-B OWWA funds held in thrust to the government.

“OFWs and their families should not forget that Mrs. Arroyo and her administration has a long list of alleged OWWA fund misuse and malversation devoid of consultations from OFWs stakeholders; thus we can’t simply give a nod to the appointment made a her “man” to the OWWA-BoT without giving OFWs the chance to be heard and consulted,” Monterona averred.

Migrante-ME said that it has been observed that the OWWA fund, a collection of $25 per OFW, has been misused not for the attainment of its own mandated purpose of providing welfare programs and services to OFWs and their families but becoming a “milking” fund by the past and the present administrations as revealed on the numerous cases of fund misused.

Migrante’s records revealed some of the alleged anomalous misuse and malversation of OFW funds under Arroyo administration:

• Transfer of P4B OFW Medicare Fund from OWWA to Philippine Health and Insurance Corporation by virtue of a secret issuance of Executive Order 182 devoid of consultations from OFWs as stakeholders of these funds.

• The P260M bogus claims exposed by then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo himself just to justify OWWA Medicare fund transfer to Philhealth

• The un-audited US$293,500 for the Middle East Preparedness Team headed by General Roy Cimatu during the US war of aggression to Iraq where repatriation of OFWs never took placed anyway

Migrante-ME said aside from the aforementioned anomalous investments and misuse of OFWs fund, the OWWA Omnibus Policies was onerously implemented devoid of consultation from OFW-members that practically removed almost all welfare programs that were previously availed by OFWs and families such as the family assistance loan and medical assistance loan.

The OWWA as the main agency tasks to ensure the welfare of OFWs abroad, thousands in distress in the Middle East are hardly given an assistance who are begging for their immediate repatriation so that they could be re-united to their families back home.
Migrante-ME claimed that even the provision of giving airfare tickets for those who are ready for repatriation because they are sick and for humanitarian considerations, OWWA could not give the needed airfare tickets.

"Our OFWs are not beggars that every time they needed assistance to OWWA, they would repeatedly send request but leave un-responded and not acted upon by OWWA welfare officers abroad," Monterona added.

Monterona asked “where the fund is intended to be spent by the Arroyo administration?”

“The appointment of OFW land-based representation to OWWA-BoT is for political exigency; the President has given the freer hand to appoint. Obviously, this appointment became more political especially if the appointing power has the underlying hidden agenda to advance its political interests,” Monterona added.

Migrante’s Monterona further said to appoint someone whom Mrs. Arroyo could be trusted, that someone should be from her “political” company, a necessity for her political survival in the midst of her dwindling popularity and net-satisfaction ratings by the public who is more disappointed, enraged but are protesting her.

Migrante chapters in the Middle East are urging OFWs and organizations to join them to oppose Gloria Arroyo's appointment of his political operator Joselito "Jojo" Sapio to the OWWA Board of Trustee as land-based representative. Such appointment threatens the 11.7-B OWWA funds.

"Let us protect and safeguard the 11.7-B OWWA funds, a compulsory collection of US$25 from every departing OFWs," Monterona ended. # # #

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

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