Group scores DBM ‘spin’ in LAF appropriations

A MILITANT group yesterday scored the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for playing a “misleading spin” to cover up the budget slash in appropriations for the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF).

Migrante International, an alliance of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), accused the DBM of attempting to prove that there were no budget cuts.

It mentioned the case of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), which presented during a Congress budget hearing a P27-million LAF budget for 2011, a marked decrease from the 2010 budget of P50 million.

To correct this, the agency said, they resolved to “carry over cash balances” from the 2009 LAF appropriations and “assumed cash balances” from the 2010 LAF to augment the P27 million proposed LAF new appropriations for 2011.

The DBM also submitted an erratum to Congress “to increase the government allocation for LAF in 2011, as mandated by RA 10022 Migrants’ Act.”

The move was in response to protests by OFWs all over the world brought about by an almost 50 percent cut in the proposed 2011 LAF appropriations.

Migrante chairperson Garry Martinez slammed the carrying over of 2009 cash balances saying that all unreleased funds should be disbursed immediately to address urgent cases of OFWs in distress, especially those in death row and languishing in jail and deportation centers.

He also questioned the wisdom of assuming cash balances for the 2010 LAF “when the year is not even over yet and there are at least seven OFWs who are scheduled to be sentenced to death before the year ends”.

Martinez added: “Without the actual cash balances, actual new appropriations for LAF would only amount to P54 million. Kaya sa aktwal, budget cut pa rin ito dahil nananatiling bumaba ang pondong ilalaan para sa LAF at ATN, mga tinuringang life line ng ating mga OFW.”  D’Jay Lazaro

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