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Friday, September 10, 2010

Filipino migrant rights group pushes thorough, transparent auditing of OFWs trust fund

Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of various Filipino migrant groups advocating OFWs rights and welfare, today pushes the conduct of a thorough and transparent auditing of OFWs trust fund held in trust to the government.


John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, said the call for a thorough and transparent auditing of OFWs trust fund held in trust to the government through its primary welfare agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an adjunct agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE), is based on the 22-point labor and employment agenda set-out by President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III upon his assumption to the Presidency.


Monterona cited item No.11 of the 22-point Labor and employment agenda of the Aquino administration, which states “Audit the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to rationalize the management of its funds, in terms of the benefits provided as well as how the funds are invested.”


The OWWA trust fund is a compulsory collection of US$25 membership fee charge to every deployed OFWs.   Membership fee to OWWA should be paid by foreign employers but was later charge solely to OFWs.


“Barely more than a month ‘til his 100 days in office, we have not heard anything from Aquino’s labor honchos  about the status of the above-cited labor agenda which is of particular interest to us -the millions of OFWs abroad, amid the scarcity or practically inadequate programs and welfare services to OFWs and their dependents,” Monterona added.


Monterona further said despite of the fact that the OFWs trust fund is immensely growing proportional to the 3,800 OFWs deployed daily based on government own records, the fund is believed to have reached 12.8-B now and still growing relative to the growing numbers of OFWs deployed yearly.


“Logically, if the trust fund is growing merely due to the membership contribution of OFWs, OWWA should have come up sufficient programs and welfare services to cater the needs of OFWs on-site and their dependents back home; sad to say numerous OWWA’s programs and services have been stopped when the OWWA Omnibus Policies has been implemented on 2004 under the anti-OFW Arroyo administration,” according to Monterona.


Monterona said his group would also welcome if the auditing of the OWWA trust funds should be joined and witnessed by representatives of various OFWs groups in the name of transparency.


“Open disclosure of the status of the OWWA funds, owned by the OFWs themselves, is also demanded,” the Saudi-based OFW leader added.

“In line of the memorandum recently issued by the President instructing government agencies to develop their respective Medium-term development economic programs, we will welcome if our group and various OFWs organizations will be consulted as it is necessary so that a more responsive and doable programs and services could be crafted based on OFWs actual and prevailing needs and concerns, or else, we would not expect at all to the Aquino administration coming up more responsive programs and welfare services to OFWs and their dependents,” Monterona ended. # # #   


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