OWWA Funds: OFWs Demand Accountability for Duterte Regime’s Criminal Negligence and Corruption

Migrante International demands accountability from the Duterte government and prosecution of the government officials responsible for the blatant corruption inside the OWWA.

Among other government agencies, the recent Commission on Audit (COA) 2020 report exposed OWWA’s questionable purchases totaling ₱1,269,920 worth of overpriced hygiene kits, sanitary napkins, thermal scanners, bottled waters and snacks at a time when the country is reeling from a worsening health and economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

“It is deplorable that government agencies such as OWWA are exploiting the crisis to embezzle funds that is allocated towards providing immediate assistance to our OFWs whose livelihood, health and survival are threatened by the pandemic. Every stolen peso entrusted to our government agencies to serve the needs of the Filipino people calls for accountability.” Chairperson Concepcion stated.

Last year, thousands of OFWs displaced by the pandemic were stranded overseas without clean water, adequate food and shelter, and no financial assistance from the government. While returning OFWs stranded in OWWA-run quarantine shelters including pregnant women and nursing mothers were deprived of medical assistance.

Only recently, the OWWA administrator Cacdac announced the suspension of cash assistance to distressed OFWs when more than half a million OFWs have returned home without alternative livelihood, and millions of OFWs overseas continue to face economic and health insecurity.

“OFWs are enraged and have had enough of the criminal negligence, the corruption and ravenous greed that marks the Duterte regime. We hold him the most accountable. On his watch, Dutere has allowed badly needed resources that could have saved lives, and supported the well-being of our distressed economic heroes to be stolen.” Concepcion added.

While OWWA Admin Cacdac says the amount in question is a small percentage relative to its total budget, our OFWs are no stranger to the records of grave corruption among government agencies mandated to provide them with welfare services and protection.

“We cannot forget the billions of OWWA funds that had been wrongly invested based on past administrations’ inutility. The OWWA fund has served as a moneybox for unscrupulous government officials since time immemorial. Each regime had exploited the OFWs’ fund for its own selfish agenda such as the transfer of OWWA Medicare to Philhealth during Gloria Arroyo’s term to pursue her presidential campaign. From OWWA to Philhealth, indeed government continues to be big business for greedy wolves amassing wealth and power.” Concepcion remarked

It is mandatory for every Filipino deployed to work abroad to pay a $25 OWWA membership filling the piggy bank of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) since its establishment as part of the Labor Export Program of the national government. It is the contributions of our Filipino migrant workers who have been mainly funding for the services and programs that attend to their welfare and protection when it should be the responsibility of the national government.

Instead of showing earnest commitment to address these blatant cases of corruption, President Duterte tells officials to ignore the annual reports published by the auditors.

Shame on Duterte! Grave corruption with no accountability is indeed the trademark of his regime. If we do not see accountability, we will not hesitate to call on our OFWs worldwide to mobilize for a ZERO REMITTANCES DAY through banks as a sign of protest!