Press Release
March 8, 2007

Use P6-B passport income to help overseas Filipinas in distress -Recto

Government should allow the Department of Foreign Affairs to use a portion of its P6.4 billion income from passport and other consular fees this year in augmenting the Assistance to National Fund used in helping Filipinas in distress abroad.

Sen. Ralph Recto said only P150 million is earmarked this year for the fund used in providing refuge, help and repatriation to an estimated eight million overseas Filipino workers.

Passport income alone could easily triple the assistance to the national fund, Recto said, on the sideline of a consultation with womens groups in Tarlac .

At any given time at least 5,000 OFWs in 82 countries with Philippine diplomatic missions need help, Recto said, basing his estimate on past bi-annual reports of the DFA on the status of OFWs, which the Migrant Workers Act requires to be collated .

In 2004, 5,583 Filipinos in distress ran to Filipino diplomats for help, most of whom were women, including 2,122 Filipinas in Kuwait.

Filipino prisoners, he said, based on the latest available census, are languishing in jails in 57 countries, in all continents except Antartica.

From up the Andes, in Columbia, Peru, Chile in South America, to Nigeria in Africa, from war-torn Lebanon to peaceful Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden, from Canada to tropical Havana, our diplomats are helping Filipinos who have had a run in with the law, he said.

We should give more resources to our diplomats so they can do their work better, he said.

Recto said the twice-a-year report of the DFA is a catalogue of misfortunes which every Filipino policymaker should read.

The report is a travelogue of tears and pain. Of Filipinas raped and maltreated, of OFWs used as mules by drug smugglers, of workers not being paid, of young women sold to white slavery, in exotic lands which you would have never believed Filipinos would end up in , he said .

Recto said a bigger ANL fund can be drawn from DFA consular income, or if not from the Treasury itself as our thank you for the record-high foreign exchange OFW sent back home last year.

News Latest News Feed