Coordination on OFW concerns would prevent waste of gov’t funds -Binay PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 26 October 2010 14:15

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, concurrently the Presidential Adviser for OFW Concerns, has expressed that coordination among government agencies on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will prevent overlapping of functions and unnecessary waste of funds.

Binay already met with at least three government agencies last week for briefings on their functions and responsibilities as well as fund disbursements vis-à-vis OFWs, soon after getting his new OFW-related assignment from President Benigno Aquino III.

The agencies were the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Binay has yet to meet with the Department of Labor, which has a migrant workers section.

The budget or funding of each agency specifically for OFWs and for what aspect of an OFWs' deployment/repatriation is not divulged, but at the DFA there is an allotment known as “Assistance to Nationals” or ATN and legal assistance.

Other agencies have appropriations under similar names, leading Binay to remark about overlapping of functions and responsibilities and possibly “double” budgeting.

On its part, DFA said that despite their slashed new budget, its ATN funds could still sustain programs of assistance that include repatriation of deported or released-from-prison OFWs.

The common concerns of those who briefed the Vice President, which included DFA’s Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Concern Esteban Conejos Jr., included OFW repatriation, illegal recruitment, excessive collection of placement fees, and legal assistance, according to Binay’s media handlers.

In an earlier meeting with reporters, Binay said he is concerned about human trafficking and the use of drug mules –issues that warrant a meeting with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Militant groups have expressed concerns that OFWS would be neglected in the light of President Benigno’s remarks that his administration would concentrate on domestic issues such as education and social development.

As well, the previous administration had also voiced out that the Philippines should slowly be less dependent on labor markets abroad.

But during the briefings, Binay assured that government will not dismiss the plight of workers, who are a big source of foreign remittances that buoy the Philippine economy.

In Filipino language, Binay reacted at the briefings thus: ”From what I heard, our government has not been remiss in helping OFWS. Still, let’s see what more we could do to help.”

”"Sa aking naririnig, di nagkukulang o nagpapabaya ang pamahalaan sa pagtulong sa mga kababayan nating pumupunta sa abroad. Titingnan namin kung paano pa makatutulong at ano pa ang mga pagkukulang na dapat naming mapunan.”

Binay’s press office did not give specifics, but said only that a multi-agency approach to OFW problems and close coordination is “essential in addressing these concerns.”

In a related development, Binay said the government will assist the family of a returning OFW who reportedly hanged to death inside the plane that brought him to Manila.

As an active OWWA member, Marlon Cueva’s family will receive P120,000 monetary assistance, a small business franchise and a scholarship for one of his three children.