Monday, August 08, 2005

More Illegal Disbursements

OWWA Funds used to bolster Gloria’s image to OFWs prior to 2004 elections

News Release – August 8, 2005
Reference: Connie Bragas-Regalado, Chairperson
Contact Nos.: 0927-2157392 or 926-2838

More Illegal Disbursements OWWA Funds used to bolster Gloria’s image to OFWs prior to 2004 elections In this season of witnesses and damning testimonies against the Macapagal-Arroyo administration, an alliance of overseas Filipino groups puts out new evidence of high government officials’ abuse of discretion and illegal disbursements of OFW trust funds held by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

“Newly obtained government documents reveal that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s operators in the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agency OWWA authorized illegal disbursements of at least P23 million of overseas Filipino workers’ (OFW) trust funds prior to the last elections,” MIGRANTE International chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado said.

Migrante presented Executive Order (EO) 287 that directs the depployment of ‘social welfare attaches’ in selected diplomatic posts dated February 24, 2004. This executive order was issued by Macapagal-Arroyo to justify US$87,757 (P23,587,000) of illegal releases from the OWWA to the Department of Labor and Employment’s International Labor Affairs Service (DOLE-ILAS). in October 1, 2003 as specified in its Board of Trustees Resolution number 40.

This resolution also approved an additional P43,000 for bank charges. In fact an extension of another release of the same amount P23,587,000 is detailed in a Landbank check number 0000196909 dated June 17, 2004.

“The said amounts were to fund the Overseas Comprehensive Social Service Package (OCSSP) of the government. This is not a program of the OWWA. Therefore sourcing of this funding should not be from OFW trust funds at the OWWA.

The timing of the secret disbursements were done to put up an image that Macapagal-Arroyo cared for OFWs. But in reality not a single peso from the national budget has been allocated to any government program for OFWs as specified in EO 287,” Bragas-Regalado said.

“It is also an absurdity of deploying 7 doctors and 8 social workers and paying them overseas allowances derived from OFW money. In Saudi Arabia for example, 2 doctors and 2 social workers were deployed to serve 915,000 Filipinos in the kingdom, which of course, was to put up a semblance of Macapagal-Arroyo’s concern for OFWs,” Bragas-Regalado added.

Other diplomatic posts that received doctors and social workers were Hong Kong (1 doctor and 1 social worker for 180,000 OFWs), Kuwait (1 doctor and 2 social workers for 60,000 OFWs), United Arab Emirates (1 doctor and 2 social workers for 140,000 OFWs), Bahrain (1 doctor for 30,000 OFWs), Korea (1 doctor for 20,000 OFWs) and Taiwan (1 social worker for 110,000 OFWs).

“These doctors and social workers went around distributing tablets of paracetamol to OFWs at the start of the campaign period in February 2004.

Thus, the illegal disbursements mentioned aided Gloria’s campaign visibility but did not extend much-needed services to the owners of the funds: the OFWs and their dependents.

We call on Congress to investigate this matter and to exert the appropriate actions to punish those who helped a fake and corrupt president to disburse OFW money to steal the elections,” Bragas-Regalado ended. #

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