Press Release
July 31, 2006

Transcript of interview with Liberal Party President Sen. Franklin M. Drilon

Q: What did you find out in today's hearing of the Committee on Labor on the repatriation of Pinoys in Lebanon?

SFMD: They are fighting over the golden rule; whoever has the gold rules. Nag-aagawan sila kung sino ang maghahawak ng pera. So if OWWA has the gold, OWWA rules. Contrary to the statement of the executive secretary, there is really a need to look at these laws. Because you have a one-country approach under the Migrant Workers' Act, which says that the ambassador has control; whereas the repatriation fund should be under the control of OWWA. So here is the ambassador and OWWA fighting over the golden rule. That is why the ambassador is disgusted because he cannot have control over the funds. The OWWA is claiming and correctly, that under Section 15, it has control over the funds. We must look at this because right now, it's a mess. And you have Ambassador Cimatu who is illegally carrying the title of an ambassador because under the rules and under the law, you cannot have an ambassador of rank, unless you are accredited to a country. You have the bureaucracy in a mess because you place one bureaucrat on top of the other. And then you fight over the funds. That is the picture that I see from the testimony taken this afternoon.

Q: That is the immediate legislative initiative or intervention?

SFMD: That is correct. The Migrants' Worker Act, particularly Section 15 and Section 28, must be recognized. And contrary to the view of the executive secretary, there is need for legislation.

Q: May balita daw kayo sa political ambition ni Garcillano?

SFMD: Sinabi sa akin ni Cong. Neric Acosta na ang prospective daw na tatakbo na kandidato sa Bukidnon ay si former Comm. Garcillano. Si Garcillano ay magaling sa bilang kaya mananalo siguro. At ang tawag sa kanya pagkatapos ng halalan ay Honorable Garcillano.

Q: Makatwiran ba ang basis ng pagpigil sa OWWA and DFA officials para huwag umattend sa hearing?

SFMD: Wala pong basehan dahil sa nakita naman natin na kailangang rebyuhin ang ating Migrant Workers' Act. Apparently, as brought out, the P100 million initial funds for the repatriation sourced out from the OWWA funds has already been exhausted. There is supposed to be appropriation from the General Appropriations Act, there is none. Should we continuously hold OWWA funds responsible for repatriation, even of workers who are not members of the OWWA. Remember OWWA is a welfare fund. Hindi naman lahat ng manggagawa ay miyembro ng OWWA. But this is a policy that the government must pursue, must it be charged against OWWA funds or must it be charged against the GAA. The law presently says GAA, but there is no appropriation. What do we do? These are matters which are valid questions in aid of legislation. And if we will act accordingly, notwithstanding the snob of Malacañang . (end)

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