The long process
Valmadrid shared that before they could file the loan application, an OFW must be able to secure certificates from two organizations.
The first certificate would be issued by the National Reintegration Center for OFWs after the loan applicant undergoes business counseling from the center. The second certificate must be secured from either Dream or Technology Resource Center. These organizations give practical trainings for loan applicants. Valmadrid took the basic meat processing course from one of these organizations.
Valmadrid said that they were supposed to be given P10,000 ($208) to enable them to undergo the practical training. However, it was not handed to them in cash. Instead, they were given two kilos of meat and other ingredients. They were not also given an allowance for the two-day seminar.
Valmadrid filed her loan application at the OWWA last February 20. And after exactly one month of constant follow-ups and negotiations, the P50,000 cash was finally released.
Martinez said that Valmadrid’s success in availing of the loan was a product of “luha at dugo” (literally, tears and blood). He added that if it not for Valmadrid’s persistence in joining pickets of Migrante and following up her application at the concerned government offices, she might not have been able to receive the loan just like some of her collegues. “Pahabaan ng pisi ang kailangan para makakuha ng kagalingan o welfare dito sa OWWA” (One must be very patient to be able to avail of welfare benefits from the OWWA.)
“E nakapagtataka lang na pag presidente ang nag-sign na ‘charged to OWWA’ eh ang dali. Walang requirements. Dito, ang mismomg may-ari ng pera ay dumadaan sa butas ng karayom” (Whenever the president signs for allocations that are being charged to OWWA funds, she does not need to submit requirements. On the other hand, the OFWS who own the funds have to go through the eye of a needle to avail of it.) Martinez added.
The more serious problem
Although Valmadrid seems very optimistic about her new food business, Martinez said the loan program does not address a more serious problem. He told Bulatlat that most of the retrenched OFWs, especially from Taiwan, have incurred debts before they were deployed and the interests of their loans continue to accumulate. Thus, Martinez said, what needs to be done immediately by the government is to provide financial assistance to the OFWs to enable them to pay their debts. “Walang collateral, walang feasibility studies na ‘yan” (There should be no collateral and no feasibility studies required.)
“Hindi naman namin hinihingi y’ong hindi amin. Ang hinihingi namin talaga ay ‘yon lang amin” (We are not demanding for something that is not ours. We are only asking for the money we know is ours), says Martinez.(Bulatlat.com)