Today, overseas Filipinos and families denounce the blatant decline in the budget allocated for their protection and welfare as proposed in the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP) for the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW)

Statement on the Department of Migrant Workers NEP 2023

September 8, 2022

Merging POEA, OWWA, POLO, OUMWA into DMW, the much propagated ultimate home of OFWs, deserves increased budget. However, only 14.9 Billion pesos was approved by the Department of Budget Management, the agency allegedly charged with corruption on the appropriation of overpriced old model laptops amounting to 2.4 Billion pesos intended for public school teachers’ educating students online.

Among the migrant serving agencies, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration gets the biggest chunk in the 2023 budget; still, 11.6 Billion is 1 Billion less compared to the 2022 OWWA 12.7 Billion,  while 3.3 Billion goes to the Office of the DMW Secretary.  Evidently, the NEP budget has no allocation for OWWA programs and benefits of OFWs which goes without saying that these would be appropriated from the OWWA Fund that comes from the sweat and blood of overseas workers’ mandatory contributions.

The Marcos Jr. government indeed carries on its mandate that the Labor Export Program would unleash potential to fulfill their destiny as co-architects of national economic development at the expense of Filipinos deployed abroad and maximizing their remittances. In fact, the DMW is busy promoting labor marketing by recruiting much needed workers in all parts of the world instead of creating more jobs at home.

Meanwhile, the NEP’s “Agenda for Prosperity: Economic Transformation Towards Inclusivity and Sustainability” which involves budget procured mainly from the Filipino people’s taxes, would benefit only favored departments in the government. For instance, compared to the 2022 General Appropriations Act 251.6 Billion, unprogrammed funds ballooned to 588.2 Billion. These include: Risk Management Program, Support to Foreign-assisted Projects, Budgetary support to Government-Owned and/or Controlled Corporations, AFP Modernization Program, Support for Infrastructure Projects and Social Programs among others.  

Moreover, the 2023 NEP does not reveal P191.49 billion budget of the Philippine National Police (PNP), an P800 million increase this year. It also hides in its report 40 billion for the AFP Modernization Program, a huge increase from P29.05 billion equivalent to 38% raise.

President Marcos Jr. has apparently forgotten his election promise to alleviate the conditions of the depressed migrants in jail awaiting justice, those cramped in shelters abroad waiting to be repatriated, OFWs who are victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking, the sick OFWs seeking medical assistance, families eagerly wanting to be reunited with their loved ones.

Victim of human trafficking, Mary Jane Veloso had been languishing on death row in Indonesia for twelve years now. She had been abandoned by the previous administration, denied of legal assistance and welfare services for her indigent family. Like Mary Jane Veloso, more than sixty OFWs are awaiting legal assistance while they rot in jails in various parts of the world.  It is therefore imperative for the NEP to increase budget for legal fund and other welfare services for the much lauded economic heroes.

Equally important, we demand that NEP allots 10 billion cash assistance to 1 million repatriated OFWs including their families as temporary relief due to the worsening economic crises and to provide budget not just for operation and maintenance of OWWA but more for the benefits and services of OFWs aside from the fund provided by the OWWA welfare fund. In addition, we ask more budget to set up additional POLO shelters in countries with high concentration of OFWs. 

We assert our rights to be involved and be heard on the government’s allocation of funds for the benefit and services of overseas Filipinos who are constantly required to pay mandatory fees from various government agencies.##