According to Sol Pillas, Migrante International spokesperson, the DBM deleted the P89.6-million budget initially penned in the proposed 2015 budget for the implementation of the overseas absentee voting (OAV).
“It is highly unfortunate that the DBM views the OAV budget as one of the dispensable items in the 2015 budget, while it is loathe to remove pork barrel, DAP and other DAP-like questionable lump-sum funds. This government would rather take away OFWs’ right to vote than give up sources of funds for massive corruption,” Pillas said.
She added that the DBM also slashed funds for OFW services, among them legal assistance, assistance to nationals and repatriation.
“What happened to the annual P100-million Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) for OFWs?” Pillas asked. She said that the LAF is sourced from the Presidential Social Fund of P50-million; Contingency Fund of the President of P30-million, and; OWWA of P20-million. Pillas said that only P30-million has been allocated for the LAF since BS Aquino became president in 2011.
She added that based on DFA disbursement reports, the DFA has at least P6-billion unused funds from 2010 to 2013. She revealed that a large chunk of the so-called “savings” were from the “underspent” allocations for the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) and the Assistance to Nationals (ATN).
From 2010 to 2013, only 34% of the appropriations for the OAV was used up. As for the ATN budget, disbursement totalled only to P741-million while P19-billion was allocated for the budget item “protection of national interest of Filipino nationals abroad.”
This were the same period when the DAP funds were accumulated, Pillas said.
“We have enough reasons to suspect that the BS Aquino administration, through its main ‘Budget Butcher’ Sec. Butch Abad, may have siphoned billions of unused funds of the DFA for DAP. May pera sa DAP pero wala para sa mga serbisyo at proteksyon sa OFWs. Bakit magkakaroon ng savings ang DFA samantalang libo-libo ang mga migrante ang nagrereklamo na hindi sila natulungan ng gobyerno,” she said. ###