Press Release
December 9, 2013


Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada lends support to a call by a migrant workers group to appropriate funds from the annual national budget for the daily operations of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and to utilize OWWA funds solely for the welfare programs for overseas Filipino workers.

Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, believes it is proper that the contributions of the OFW-members are spent exclusively for programs that directly benefit the migrant workers and their families, and the government allocates funds for the regular operational expenses of the office.

This developed as the Committee took up last Tuesday the proposed OWWA Charter which seeks to define the functions and powers of the agency primarily concerned with the implementation of welfare programs for the OFWS.

Mr. Jun Aguilar, Chairman of the Filipino Migrant Workers Group, brought up before the committee that the government is not spending a single peso for the welfare of the OFWs since funds used for this purpose are being taken from the individual paying members of the OWWA.

Migrant workers are paying US$ 25 as compulsory membership fee to the OWWA. The said amount is collected on a per contract basis.

OWWA Omnibus Policies provides that membership is obtained either by enrollment upon processing of contract at the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) or by voluntary registration of OFWs at job-sites overseas.

As per Administrator Carmelita Dimzon, the OWWA's collection as of October 2013 amounts to 1.5 billion pesos. Before the year ends, this amount is estimated to reach 2 billion pesos.

Dimzon explains that the Board of Trustees approves an operating budget drawn from the Trust Fund composed of membership contributions of land-based and sea-based workers, investment and interest income, and income from other sources.

According to a report of the Commission on Audit for the year 2012, the OWWA posted an income of 2.65 billion pesos, and expenses of 1.50 billion pesos.

The approved budget is utilized for the personal services, capital outlay and maintenance and other operating expenses of the agency.

Dimzon, however, clarifies that included under the budget item of MOOE are welfare programs for OFWs like the scholarships, death and disability benefits, psycho-social intervention, among others.

"I support the suggestion to source funds for the daily operations of the OWWA, like salaries of its employees, from the national budget and to use the OWWA funds solely to programs which will be beneficial to our migrant workers, like repatriation and assistance to distressed and runaway OFWs," Jinggoy states.

The subject is expected to be taken up during the course of deliberations on the proposed OWWA Act. The committee has scheduled a technical working group meeting early next year to discuss the inputs and amendments of the stakeholders on the proposed OWWA Charter.

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