BY CANDICE Y. CEREZO
QUEZON CITY—THE bankruptcy of roughly 200 government-funded livelihood groups of overseas Filipino workers and their families reveals major errors in a project that an OFW leader and a government report said was used solely for the 2004 elections.
“Their promise to us is that there will be an OFW Groceria loan, followed by OFW Botica, and thirdly, that each member will have a loan of P200,000. However, these did not reach us [except for the grocery] loan, which we even had difficulties [operating],” Lutgarda Zapanta, a leader of an OFW group, said.
Zapanta was referring to the micro-lending project for OFWs –called OFW Groceria– that is hobbled by the inability of beneficiaries like her to pay back the grocery products for re-sale loaned to them by government.
She received in October a notice from OWWA asking her, as president of her group OFW BZ Chapter, to pay a 22-month past due loan of P45,834.80.
The problem: she and other leaders of groups she organized and which tapped the lending program don’t have the resources to cough out the money –a total quarter of a million pesos (US$7,000)– they owe government.
“Chairman, pano na ito? Two years na, wala na ang grocery. Wala na’ng pera. Anong gagawin natin?” Zapanta cited her and the leaders’ worries. [How would we go about this, Madam chairman? Two years have passed and the grocery’s folded up, the money’s gone. What should we do?]
A recent report by Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, which now handles the two-year project, pointed to the 2004 election atmosphere as the source of debacle for Zapanta and the leaders.
A number of OFW families and dependents deliberately organized themselves just to avail of the project because it is election-time especially at the National Capital Region, the report dated June 30, 2006, noted.
It added that borrowers had a “shallow appreciation on [sic] the real objectives of the project, as they view [sic] the project primarily as an economic activity.”
“There was no clear orientation or direction of the project,” the report said .Zapanta’s predicament comes at a time when another poll event is just around the corner while government is rehashing a shuttered micro-lending scheme.
To read full story, visit the OFWJC Website