Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday rejected calls for the use of the trust fund being managed by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to provide for the emergency needs of displaced and repatriated Filipino migrant workers.
“They are sending us more than $30 billion a year. It helps our economy. At least, for once, let’s pay back to them. ‘Let us not touch the money,” Bello said.
The OWWA has asked for a P5 billion supplemental budget from Congress to prolong its fund’s sustainability as it warned of a “largely looming” bankruptcy should it continue to spend for the food, accommodation and transportation of repatriated workers beyond 2021.
At a Senate hearing last week, OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the agency’s P18.79-billion fund is expected to be reduced to P10 billion by the end of this year, and plunge below P1 billion by the end of 2021 should OFWs continue to be displaced and repatriated.
The OWWA has so far spent more than P800 million for repatriation, accommodation and cash assistance to Covid 19 affected returning OFWs, Cacdac said. Vito Barcelo