8 September 2010
Migrant rights group criticizes DFA’s proposed slashed budget for OFWs legal assistance, calls it “unjustifiable, grave injustice’
Reacting on the DFA’s proposed 2010 budget intended for providing legal assistance fund to OFWs disclosed during Congressional hearing on the national government 2011 proposed budget, an alliance of Filipino migrants’ rights group today strongly criticizes the Aquino administration and its foreign affairs department for cutting the supposed 100-M legal assistance for OFWs abroad.
“The cutting of the supposed intended budget of 100-M legal assistance fund is an injustice that could not be justified, therefore highly irregular and illegal and in violation of the Migrant Workers Act 0f 1995 and its newly amended law by the Foreign Affairs department under the Aquino administration,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
Monterona added saying in Tagalog “Wala ata sa daang matuwid ang Aquino administration kung ang nararapat at itinatadhana ng batas na 100-M legal assistance fund ay babawasan ng wala sa kalahati nito, considering the OFWs have been hugely contributing to the local economy through their billions of remittances, which is equal to 10% of the country’s GDP.”
Monterona said the numerous cases of abuses, maltreatment, and labor practices, the considerable numbers of OFWs in various jails abroad facing death and others were already on death row, surge on the numbers of distress and run away, are enough proof for P-Noy to rightly decide and arrange for a higher budget allocation for OFWs legal assistance fund.
“We are demanding from P-Noy to review himself and look into the proposed DFA budget especially with concerns to the 100-M legal assistance fund intended for hiring lawyers in defense of accused OFWs and those in jail, among many other needed assistance,” Monterona added.
Monterona said if the Aquino administration and the DFA will insist a lowered legal assistance fund in violation of the Migrant Workers Act provision, then his group will consider contesting this in a proper court.
Pertinent provision of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act states (SEC. 25.) LEGAL ASSISTANCE FUND – There is hereby established a legal assistance fund for migrant workers, herein after referred to as Legal Assistance fund, in the amount of One hundred million pesos (P100,000,000.00) to be constituted from the following sources:
Fifty million pesos (P50,000,000.00) from the Contingency Fund of the President;
Thirty million pesos (P30,000,000.00) from the Presidential Social Fund; and
Twenty million pesos (P20,000,000.00) from the Welfare Fund for Overseas Workers established under Letter of Instruction No. 537, as amended by Presidential Decree Nos. 1694 and 1809. (Bulatlat.com)
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator