OFWs to Aquino: Don’t brag about P1-B fund

A GROUP of overseas Filipino workers aren’t satisfied with the P1-billion fund ordered to be set aside by President Benigno Aquino III for returning OFWs.

Garry Martinez, chairperson of Migrante International, said Aquino “should not be brandish” about his directive because “it isn’t borne out of his goodwill.”

“That has been part of the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration)’s mandate in the first place,” said Martinez, adding that Aquino’s pronouncement on having a “reintegration fund” for OFWs wasn’t something new.

He said the President should also “stop acting” as if the money would come from the budget of the Office of the President.

“It’s from the pockets of OFWs. It’s part of their mandatory OWWA membership contributions,” said Martinez.

If Aquino is really sincere in addressing the plight of OFWs, he should instead issue a categorical statement opposing the 50-percent budget cut in the legal assistance fund and assistance to nationals in the Department of Foreign Affairs 2011 budget, according to Migrante.

The group said the President should likewise prioritize the investigation of OWWA funds “which have perennially been placed under fire for numerous allegations of misuse and corruption.”

The OWWA has reportedly collected P12 billion in 2010 from the mandatory $25 contributions from members.

OFWs, however, have been complaining that the money has not been used properly to provide service and assistance for migrant workers.

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