Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pledge more funds to OWWA, presidential bets told

By Dennis Carcamo
Updated March 17, 2010
08:11 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines -- A group of Filipino migrant workers today called on leading presidential candidates to pledge government funds to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

"It is high time for the next President to ensure that the supposed premier welfare-based agency, the OWWA, should be included in the yearly budget allocation of the national government so that it would not purely depend its operational expenses, programs and services from the verseas Filipino workers (OFWs) trust fund, a compulsory collection of $25 per member,” Migrante Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said.

OWWA is an adjunct agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) tasked to provide welfare programs and services to an estimated 10 million OFWs and their dependents in the Philippines.

Monterona said one way of giving back to OFWs is to ensure that OWWA has a sound fiscal status and has funding for welfare programs and services for OFWs and their dependents.

“Right now, OWWA’s operating expenses is taken from the OFW trust fund now ammounting to about P13 billion. There is no single amount coming from the national government. Moreover, there are only few welfare programs and services provided by the OWWA to its stakeholders,” Monterona added.

In 2002, he cited that the OWWA budget allocation for major programs and direct benefits to OFWs and their families was only a meager 11 percent. Meanwhile, 43 percent was allocated to service operational cost and 27 percent was earmarked for its staff on-site wages and allowances, Monterona said.

“This would also explain why OWWA would often refuse to provide assistance to OFWs in distress,” he added.

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