Around 30 protesters marched to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Pasay City yesterday to denounce the government’s failure to deliver promised assistance to overseas Filipino workers.
The protesters included members of Migrante International and retrenched OFWs from Taiwan.
Gina Gaborni, Migrante International deputy secretary general, criticized the government for its continued negligence of the retrenched OFWs.
“This Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund is a hoax. Just like the cheques that were handed down in Malacañang,” she said.
She said President Arroyo issued Administrative Order 248 in December 2008 as the government’s “payback” to OFWs for helping the economy with their dollar remittances.
“The government allotted P250 million for this program but so far, has not benefited any returned OFW. And to add insult to injury, the government’s assistance package is actually a loan, which OFWs must repay to OWWA,” Gaborni insisted.
According to Migrante, only 10 percent or P5,000 of the allotted P50,000 for each expatriate worker is available, the rest are in goods. They also claimed that before anyone can benefit from the program, they have to attend seminars, training activities, draw a feasibility study for a livelihood program and submit other requirements.
“The process was intentionally designed to actually discourage anyone to claim the said assistance package,” Gaborni pointed out.
The protesters dispersed at about 11:55 a.m., according to Pasay City police chief Senior Superintendent Raul Petrasanta. – Rhodina Villanueva, Philippine Star