Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) worldwide, today scored the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for playing a “misleading spin” to cover-up the budget slash in appropriations for the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF).
In a briefing with various OFW groups and advocates, the DBM attempted to prove that there were no budget cuts as presented earlier by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Congress budget hearings where a marked decrease in the LAF from P50 million in 2010 to P27 million in 2011 was registered.
To correct this, the agency said, they resolved to “carry over cash balances” from the 2009 LAF appropriations and “assumed cash balances” from the 2010 LAF to augment the P27 million proposed LAF new appropriations for 2011.
The DBM also submitted an erratum to Congress “to increase the government allocation for LAF in 2011, as mandated by RA 10022 Migrants’ Act”.
The move was in response to protests by OFWs all over the world brought about by an almost 50 percent cut in the proposed 2011 LAF appropriations.
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez slammed the carrying over of 2009 cash balances saying that all unreleased funds should be disbursed immediately to address urgent cases of OFWs in distress, especially those in death row and languishing in jail and deportation centers.
He also questioned the wisdom of assuming cash balances for the 2010 LAF “when the year is not even over yet and there are at least seven OFWs who are scheduled to be sentenced to death before the year ends”.
Martinez added, “Without the actual cash balances, actual new appropriations for LAF would only amount to P54 million. Kaya sa aktwal, budget cut pa rin ito dahil nananatiling bumaba ang pondong ilalaan para sa LAF at ATN, mga tinuringang life line ng ating mga OFW.” (Refer to table below)
The LAF is earmarked to subsidize legal assistance for OFWs in distress while the ATN covers funds for repatriation, consular services and medical assistance, among others.
Martinez also reiterated that “the DBM’s computation is a violation of RA 10022. The law clearly states that P100 million should be allocated for the LAF per fiscal year. It mandates that if the LAF does not reach P100 million, the National Treasury is obliged to release P30 million at least to achieve the mandated amount,” he said. (Refer to table below)
“Ang budget cuts na ito ay nagpapatunay na ang budget framework ng gobyernong Aquino ay hindi maka-OFW. Di pa nga natatapos ang 100 days niya, malinaw na ang daang ipinatatahak niya sa atin ay magdudulot pa ng ibayong kahirapan sa atin,” Martinez further declared.
He said that instead of much-needed funds for social services, land reform and strategic national industrial development to address root causes of forced migration, namely, landlessness, unemployment and poverty, Aquino’s priorities clearly bank on debt-servicing, modernization of the AFP and counter-insurgency despite human rights violations, corruption-prone dole-outs and the further opening up of the domestic market to foreign exploits resulting in the intensification of the government’s labor export program.
Migrante International said that it would hold internationally-coordinated protest actions on Aquino’s 100th day in office to protest budget mis-allocation and mis-prioritization and to call for higher state subsidy for OFWs. Migrante International has chapters and member OFW organizations in 90 countries all over the world. ###
|DBM computation||Actual new appropriations|
|(P52.63M 2009 LAF cash balances)
(P20M OWWA [But “OWWA has already allocated an initial P10M for 2010 “on a staggered or ‘on need’ basis, according to the DBM])
P27.3 new appropriations for 2011 (P2.7M of which would come from ATN cash balances)
P30M GAA as per RA 10022
OWWA funds are not government subsidy but OFW contributions
P24.6M new appropriations
P30M GAA as per RA 10022
RA No. 10022 Budget, FY 2010-2011 (in million pesos)
|Particulars||2010 GAA||2011 new appropriations|
|LAF||50.0||27.3 (-2.7 from ATN cash balances)|