He also said that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) agreed to submit an erratum to Congress to increase the government allocation for LAF in 2011 to P30 million, as mandated by the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended (Republic Act No. 8042, as amended by R.A. No. 10022).
"Hindi po natin pinapabayaan ang ating mga bayaning OFW (We are not neglecting the needs of our OFW heroes). Contrary to earlier reports, our funds for legal support to our OFW in 2011 will be sufficient, and even more than required," he said.
He said the department projects that the total LAF for 2011 could at least be P129.96 million to as much as P217.76 million. He said this depends on how the 2010 balance will be used for the rest of the year, with the department assuming conservatively that half will be used.
Abad said that the department's record shows that only 6.7% or P14.5 million of the P135.518 million in LAF for 2010 has been used as of June 30. Furthermore, there is a fund balance of P52.63 million in 2009, which is carried-over due to the continuing nature of the fund.
The P2.7 million will come from the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund, also a continuing fund with current balances that could be used to augment the LAF. Additional funding could also come from balances of existing legal assistance or defense fund.
Under R.A. No. 10022, a LAF should be established in the amount of P100 million, to be sourced from the President's Contingent Fund (P50 million), the President's Social Fund (P20 million) and the Overseas Workers' Welfare Fund (P20 million).
The amended law mandates that an annual appropriation of not less than P30 million for LAF shall be provided in the national budget, with total LAF not being less than P100 million. LAF is treated as a Special Fund in the National Treasury, and its balances cannot revert back to the General Fund.