'Give to Ceasar what is due to Ceasar; Give to OFWs what is due to OFWs'
An alliance of Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East today scores Department of Budget and Management secretary Butch Abad saying on what it calls a “spin” explanation provided by Abad on OFWs legal assistance fund that has been cut on the proposed 2011 national government budget.
DBM chief Butch Abad issued an explanation about the status of the legal assistance fund and at the same time assured the OFWs and their families that the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) for OFWs will be worth at least 100-M, as required by the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act as amended or RA 10022.
But Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona reacted on Abad’s explanation calling it a “spin” to mislead the OFWs and their families.
“We won’t buy his ‘spin’; first if not of the collective efforts of Migrante and other OFWs organizations protesting the budget cut for LAF and assistance to the nationals fund, the DBM would not be forced to provide an explanation, and yet the explanation provided is a twist in order to justify an illegal act,” Monterona said.
Monterona said it was now revealed that there are un-used balances of funds from previous years allocated for LAF, and yet, he said there are numerous cases that have never been given the legal assistance by the DFA as the distress OFWs’ families are pleading for legal assistance.
Monterona is referring to the 52.6-M and 67.7-M LAF balances for fiscal year 2009 and 2010 respectively.
“Obviously, if one will include these balances to the meager amount from the general appropriation and other sources of funds stipulated by the law, then it would result to an increase LAF,” Monterona averred.
Monterona said RA8042 and RA 10022 that amended the former, clearly mentioned the sources of the legal assistance funds (LAF) as follows:
50-M from the Contingency fund of the President
30-M from the President Social Fund
20-M from OWWA Welfare fund
30-M from the yearly General appropriation act
“Thus the law stipulates that the LAF would not be less than 100-M,” Monterona explained.
However, according to Monterona, the Aquino govt. allocation is as follows:
50-M from DFA budget
20-M from OWWA Welfare fund
22.67-M from Contingent fund
From the above, Monterona said, it could be deduced that the government allocation is contrary and in violation of the law.
“Specifically, the allocation from the Contingent fund of the President was reduced -that should be 50-M to barely 22.6-M, and where is now the 30-M from the President social fund?,” Monterona asked.
Monterona said they will continue to protest the budget cut for LAF and assistance to the nationals fund.
“We would like to remind Sec. Abad of the biblical passage “Give to Ceasar what is due to Ceasar,”, give to OFWs what is due to OFWs and their dependents,” Monterona ended. # # #