Thursday, September 3, 2009

12-B OFW trust fund not safe under the Arroyo administration
Misuse and diversion of fund looms as election comes nearer

Press Release
3 September 2009

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers’ organizations in the Middle East, today said the 12-B OFWs trust fund is like gold in a pot which Malacanang is eyeing for its own use to advance its own political agenda and interests amid the public uproar on Mrs. Arroyo’s sons’ property acquisitions in the United States.

“Under the Arroyo administration that is perceived to be most corrupt, the 12-B OFWs trust fund is not safe; without OFWs close watch, it may disappear without notice,” warned by John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

Monterona said the OFWs trust fund is growing not because of the sound and judicious investments and wise fund management of OWWA but because there are more than 3,300 OFWs being deployed daily, all were compulsory charged of US$25 OWWA membership.

Monterona further said since the Arroyo administration continuously peddling OFWs abroad just like a commodity for export benchmarking its 1-M yearly target, no wonder the OFWs fund held in trust to the government will naturally grow every year.

From barely Php.6.2-B on fiscal year 2002, it is now believed to reach Php.12-B.

“Thus, OWWA administrator Dimzon could not validly claim that the OFWs trust fund is growing because of their investments and fund management; like previous OWWA administrators she too is misusing the funds as there are only few services, welfare programs and social benefits provided by OWWA to OFWs stakeholders and their families,” Monterona added.

Monterona said in fact there are previous OWWA investments which incurred huge losses instead of good dividends like the government’s buy out Frederick Hotel and the granting of loan to Landoil Resources during the Aquino administration; the Smokey Mountain Rehabilitation and Development project during the Ramos administration, among many others that were secretly made without consultations to OFWs stakeholders as the real owners of the fund.

“We are also witness how the Arroyo administration misuses the OFWs trust fund by secretly transferring Php.4-B OWWA Medicare fund to Philhealth by virtue of Executive order 182 which was used then distributing free Philhealth cards during the 2004 Presidential campaign of Mrs. Arroyo to woo voters in Pampanga and Visayas, the 70-M incurred losses for the pre-departure loan, the 260-M bogus claims of OWWA Medicare exposed by no other than then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo, among other misuses and malversation of funds,” Monterona claimed.

Monterona said while the idea of putting hospitals for OFWs is for the benefits of OFWs and members of their families, it is objectionable if the OFWs trust fund will be used without properly consulting OFWs stakeholders and their organizations representing them, and without clear guidelines using the funds for that purpose.

“We are also questioning the timing of the proposal to put up hospitals for OFWs using the 12-B OFWs trust fund as elections is fast approaching; we suspect the same modus operandi on 2004 Presidential elections where a portion of OFW trust fund has been misused,” Monterona averred.

“We challenge OWWA Admin. Dimzon to publicly publish OWWA Statement of Account by posting it at different OWWA offices abroad and on its Main Office in Pasay, so that the almost 10-M OFW stakeholders may knew where these amounts are being spent by OWWA,” Monterona added.

Monterona is also urging members of the Congress especially the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) to look into the OWWA trust fund during Congress deliberation of the proposed national budget for 2009, though there is no allocation provided by the national government to OWWA as its budget allocation comes from the US$25 compulsory contributions of OFWs but as a measure in safeguarding the 12-B OFWs fund from the hands of the crooks. –end-

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

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