Global alliance for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today said that President Benigno Aquino III’s P1 billion loan program for returning OFWs is “mere tokenism and pure lip service”.
In a speech at the 2010 Model OFW Family of the Year Awards at Hotel Sofitel in Manila, Aquino “ordered” the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to allocate a P1-billion “reintegration fund” from which OFWs may loan to start their own businesses.
Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said, “Pnoy should not brandish as if it were a new directive borne out of his goodwill something that has been part of the OWWA’s mandate in the first place. Pinapalabas niya na bago itong atas na ito na dapat ikatuwa ng mga OFW samantalang matagal na itong dapat na ginagawa ng OWWA.”
He added, “Another thing, PNoy should stop acting as if the funds came from Malacanang when OWWA funds come directly from OFWs’ mandatory membership contributions. Kailangang ilinaw na hindi ito dagdag na pondo na mula sa Malakanyang o sa gobyerno kundi sa bulsa ng mga OFW mismo.”
“If PNoy is really interested in addressing the welfare and needs of OFWs, he should issue a categorical statement opposing the 50 percent budget cuts in the LAF (legal assistance fund) and ATN (assistance to nationals) in the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) 2011 budget. He himself admitted the decrease during his 100th day press conference,” he said.
The migrant leader also said that the President should also prioritize the immediate investigation of OWWA funds which have perennially been placed under fire for numerous allegations of misuse and corruption.
The OWWA has reportedly collected an estimated P12 billion in 2010 from the mandatory $25 contributions from members. OFWs, however, have been complaining that these have not been used properly to provide much-needed service and assistance for them. ###