Press Release
September 10, 2015

Nancy hits DBM for 'zero' budget for OFW legal assistance fund in proposed 2016 national budget
Senator to push for inclusion of legal fund in DFA's 2016 budget

Senator Nancy Binay took to task the Budget department for proposing a 'zero' budget for a fund that provides legal assistance to distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the proposed 2016 national budget.

"Ganito ba tayo tumanaw sa mga sakripisyo at paghihirap ng ating mga OFWs? Zero budget para sa kanilang legal assistance fund samantalang bilyon ang nireremit nila kada taon sa ating ekonomiya?" Binay asked.

She added that the DBM proposed a 'zero' budget for the OFW legal assistance fund (LAF), which assists OFWs in getting legal services in the countries they are working in.

Republic Act No. 10022 (or the amended Migrant Workers Act) provides for the government to set aside P100 million to aid OFWs in their legal concerns, which the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) handles.

The lady senator lamented the poor support that the administration has been giving to the OFWs, especially in looking after their welfare in times of distress.

Binay added that the OFW LAF has been dwindling beginning last year.

She explained that the DBM proposed only P30 million for the fund in last year's budget deliberations. Binay had pushed for increasing the fund to P100 million.

But the President conditionally vetoed the legal assistance fund when he signed the 2015 national budget into law last year, saying that there was no income source to justify the creation of the fund.

The lady senator vowed to push for the inclusion of the legal fund into the DFA's 2016 budget.

"I will make it a point during the budget deliberations na mabigyan ng LAF ang ating mga OFWs. We cannot compromise the lives of these OFWs just because we don't have the budget to provide them legal assistance," Binay said.

"Napaghahalatang manhid ang pamahalaan sa mga hinaing ng mga OFW, isang example na lamang itong zero budget na ayaw nitong tulungan ang mga OFW," she added.

Binay noted that there are some policies that are anti-OFWs like the collection of the P550.00 terminal fee at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which RA 10022 exempts them from paying.

"The terminal fee is integrated into the airline ticket pero supposedly exempted sila sa pagbabayad. At bakit kung kailan lamang sila makakauwi ng Pilipinas e saka lang sila makakapila para makolekta ito?" Binay said.

The senator also pointed out the plan of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to open balikbayan boxes and tax personal items.

"Mabuti na lang at napigilan natin ang implementasyon ng policy na iyon, na isang panggigipit sa ating mga OFWs," Binay said.

Binay earlier filed Senate Resolution No. 1533 directing the proper Senate committees to conduct an inquiry on the BOC's policy.

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