Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon reprimanded the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for its inadequate assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Panahon na para ang OWWA ay tumulong nang todo sa mga OFWs. Ako ay nakikiusap na gawin ninyo ang lahat para naman mabawasan ang problema ng ating mga kababayan sa ibayong dagat,” Drilon said in an interview over radio station DwIZ on Saturday.
Drilon said he will file a resolution to look into the plight of the OFWs and how the OWWA is assisting them.
Drilon prodded the OWWA to provide more services to the OFWs using its P20-billion trust fund, as he found it “insensitive” that the agency seems to be more concerned about their return of investment than helping the OFWs to cope with the pandemic.
“Hindi pwedeng gamiting rason na maapektuhan yung kanilang investment. Sa pera ng OFWs nanggaling iyang P20-billion trust fund. The purpose of the trus fund is not for investment but to help the OFWs in times like this” he stressed.
“Huwag silang umasa sa gobyerno dahilan sa maraming pangangailangan ang national government,” he added.
“If OWWA is able to help our OFWs, that is also an investment, because if they find another jobs overseas, they can send remittances again to their families and that will help our economy,” Drilon said.
There are around 50,000 OFWs who are expected to return to the country in June and the OWWA is asking the government for additional funding to assist them, fearing that their trust fund would be depleted.
But Drilon stressed tthe OWWA does not need any augmentation of its budget from the national government as it can use its almost P20 billion trust fund pooled primarily from the US$25 membership contributions of OFWs. The OWWA has 1.6 million as of 2017 data.
“OWWA can tap into its trust fund to provide financial and livelihood assistance to our OFWs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from this, they receive an annual subsidy from the national government,” Drilon said. The OWWA has a total budget of P1,588,778,000 under the 2020 General Appropriations Act.
Drilon said he is saddened that OFWs are not being provided with sufficient support from the government in this most challenging time.
He said the OWWA should provide more for the OFWs during this trying time and give them small livelihood to be able to continue to provide to their families.
“Panahon na para lahat gawin nila para sa OFWs. Napilitan silang umuwi dahil walang trabaho sa kung saan sila nanggaling,” said Drilon as he noted how the OFWs have fueled the economy for decades.
The records showed that the remittances of the OFWs accounted for 9.3% of our gross domestic product and 7.8% of our gross national income in 2019./Stacy Ang