‘Walden Bello anti-OFW; his OFWs’ representation is a false claim’

FILIPINO migrants’ rights group in the Middle East assailed Akbayan partylist Rep. Walden Bello for saying that he and Akbayan represent the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Philippine Congress.

“How one could genuinely represent the OFWs in PH Congress if its stand on various OFWs issues and concerns is totally in conflict to the interest of the OFW sector? Walden Bello’s claim that he and his party Akbayan represent the OFWs is totally false,” said Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona.

Monterona added that in fact Bello and Akbayan have been misrepresenting OFWs in bad faith just to advance its party’s interests in cahoots with the Aquino administration.

Monterona said, “Akbayan and Bello’s puppetry to the Aquino administration had rewarded him (referring to Bello) the chairmanship of the Congressional special Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs (COWA) who is sitting cold on the various OFWs issues and concerns.”

Monterona questioned why Bello, for instance, is silent on Aquino’s Administrative Order No. 31 signed and issued October 1, 2012, allowing government agencies and controlled and owned corporations to raise fees and charges. “Undoubtedly, the OFWs will be hit hard by PNoy’s AO#31 given the numerous government documentations required for our deployment abroad.”

“Bello also killed a proposed House bill that would have prevented the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) from being under the jurisdiction of Republic Act 10149 or the GOCC Governance Act of 2011 that will transform OWWA into a GOCC and to corner its P13-B trust fund, a compulsory collection of US$25 per OFW member,” Monterona claimed.

The OFW leader also allegedd that Akbayan and Bello also ‘killed’ a proposed bill that would grant credit assistance to OFWs, especially distressed, and to members of their families.

“These are just few, among the many, OFWs issues and concerns that would prove Bello and Akbayan’s anti-OFW stance. I could not remember a proposed bill or a law for that matter that was authored by Bello aiming to advance OFWs rights and welfare,” Monterona, who is now based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

“For the many OFWs, not only here in the Middle East but around the world, Bello and Akbayan’s claim that they represent OFWs is utterly a false claim. We join other sectors and progressive groups demanding the disqualification of Akbayan as it is not ‘underrepresented’ and not even representing any marginalized sector,” Monterona said.

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