Migrante condemns granting of GMA bail petition

Overseas Filipinos around the world condemned the Pasay Regional Trial Court’s granting of bail petition to former Pres. Gloria Arroyo in the case of electoral sabotage.

“It is highly lamentable that a mere few days after the SONA where Pres. Aquino boasted of accountability in government, the very epitome of plunder, corruption and grave abuse of power is now free to walk. We have no doubt in our minds that Arroyo is guilty of electoral sabotage and cheating,” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez added that Arroyo deserves to be placed in a regular jail for her plunder of OFWs contributions and earnings. “We demand that Arroyo also be held accountable and give back to OFWs the millions in dollars of OWWA funds she used for her personal and political agenda.”

He cited, during Arroyo’s time, AFP chief of staff Roy Cimatu’s botched rescue mission during the Lebanon crisis on 2006 when the OWWA released P150 million for the repatriation of OFWs. Out of more than 6,000 OFWs, only 1,000 were repatriated by Cimatu, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was able to repatriate 4,000 OFWs.

The incident prompted several Senate hearings and it was then discovered that P6.8 billion of OWWA funds were transferred to the Development Bank of the Philippines and Landbank of the Philippines (P3.4 billion each) without any consultations with the OFW sector.

Former solicitor general Atty. Frank Chavez also filed a case at the DOJ against former president Gloria Arroyo for alleged misuse, re-channel and charge to OWWA funds various projects that had nothing to do with OFWs, among them the supposed evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq, Kuwait and Afganistan in 2003.

Arroyo also reportedly transferred P100 Million Livelihood Development Program from the OWWA to the National Livelihood Support Fund under the Office of the President in September 2003. She and the other respondents are also accused of electoral fraud by “intending, facilitating and ordering the diversion of migrant workers’ trust funds from the OWWA to finance her campaign machinery starting 2003” with regard the release of PhilHealth cards bearing Arroyo’s name and picture as an election campaign tactic in the 2004 elections.

The OFWs took the Aquino administration to task for failing to act promptly on demands and cases filed by OFWs against Arroyo.

“It has been two years since Aquino assumed office but no case has been filed in court by the Aquino administration on these allegations.” ###