OFWs to PNoy: Spare the P14-B OFW trust fund from partisan election spending

AS President Benigno Simeon ‘Noynoy’ Aquino III started to publicly introduced administration’s bet during his recent visit to Cebu, migrants rights group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) today appealed to PNoy to spare overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) trust fund held in trust to the government from partisan election spending.

“We all knew that administration’s candidates especially if the President himself commits to campaign for his bets are in an advantage position. It goes without saying that government resources will be used for partisan electoral agenda,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.

M-ME issued the statement noting that the previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime had been alleged to spend a huge portion of the OFWs trust fund held in trust to the government for partisan electoral purposes.

“We have reasons to worry about in regards to secure the OFWs trust fund from partisan electoral spending,” Monterona lamented.

OFW trust fund is believed to have reached nearly P14.8-B, is pooled from US$25 OFW membership fee in trust to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Monterona recalled that Migrante International and former solicitor general Atty. Frank Chavez filed a case at the DOJ against former president Gloria Arroyo for alleged misuse, re-channel and charge to OWWA funds various projects that had nothing to do with OFWs, among them the supposed evacuation of Filipinos from Iraq, Kuwait and Afganistan in 2003.

Arroyo also reportedly transferred P100 Million Livelihood Development Program from the OWWA to the National Livelihood Support Fund under the Office of the President in September 2003.

Mrs. Arroyo and the other respondents are also accused of electoral fraud by “intending, facilitating and ordering the diversion of migrant workers’ trust funds from the OWWA to finance her campaign machinery starting 2003” with regard the release of PhilHealth cards bearing Arroyo’s name and picture as an election campaign tactic in the 2004 elections, Monterona recalled.

“We are not saying that PNoy administration will do what GMA had done in depleting our OFWs trust fund for partisan activities,” Monterona quickly adding that ‘OFWs must be vigilant to secure the P14.8-B OFWs trust fund.’

Monterona also urges PNoy to instruct the OWWA to publicly issue its 2012 Financial Report.

“All OFW stakeholders should know the real financial standing of our trust fund. And we will keep an eye how OWWA will spend our funds this year,” Monterona added.

He noted that based on 2011 OWWA Financial report, the OFW premier agency reported that it spent a total of P1.8-B for as ‘Expenses’ covering Personal Services (23.34%), Maintenance & Other Operating Expenses (15.26%), and for Programs & Projects (61.40%).

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