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Updated APRIL 7, 2004


2 April 2004

Kung ang laman ng bank account mo ay sapilitang inilipat sa iba,

...hindi ba't magagalit ka?

On November 20, 2002, PhilHealth President Fransisco Duque writes a memo to President Gloria requesting the transfer of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Medicare Fund from OWWA to PhilHealth.

In the memo, Duque says to the President that "the transfer will have a significant bearing on 2004 national elections".

On February 14, 2003, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signs Executive Order 182 authorizing the transfer of the P4 billion OWWA Medicare Fund to PhilHealth.

On February 2, 2004, the OWWA Board of Trustee, headed by its Chair, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, signs Resolution No. 5 , Series 2004, approving the transfer of P530,382,446 from the OWWA Medicare Fund to PhilHealth "to implement Executive Order 182, Series of 2003".

The OWWA Medicare Fund and the OWWA Fund is like our bank account as OFWs. It is composed of the P900 annual Medicare contribution and the US$25 membership fee we are forced to pay when we have new work contracts.

Kaya nagagalit kami that the P530 million transfer from OWWA to PhilHealth is a done deal without our approval and despite our protests. Especially since this anomalous move smacks of corruption and is part of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's strong desire to prolong her stay in Malacanang by another 6 years.

In addition to the P530 million, 65 million + US$293,500 more taken from OFWs:

P50 million from OWWA to President Gloria for her "OFW Groceria Project": 1,000 OFW Grocerias will be setup nationwide with P50,000 worth of groceries "lent" with zero interest and vague repayment dates; each Groceria will have a banner saying "Programa ni Pangulong Gloria"; this project was launched March 4, 2004.

P15 million from 1990 Gulf War Claimants' Fund to Labor Sec. Sto. Tomas: DFA Secretary Delia Albert gives Labor Sec. Sto. Tomas P15 million for "various" DOLE projects related to OFWs in a February 26, 2004 letter; this money is from a "residue" fund of the Philippine Claims and Compensation Secretariat (tasked with distributing United Nations compensation to Gulf War victims); meanwhile, many Gulf War victims have not received a single cent as compensation for the emotional distress and financial losses they experienced during the 1990 Gulf War.

US$293,500 from OWWA to the DFA for Philippine preparations for the US-War against Iraq: President Gloria handwrites, "OK, charge to OWWA" on a March 12, 2003 request by Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo for funds to cover "preparations" for the 2003 Gulf War; President Gloria's decision to use our OWWA money for the Gulf War is anomalous and until today, the US$293,500 has yet to be accounted for.

Nagagalit din kami dahil the money we pay to OWWA is supposedly in exchange for our welfare services. But instead of improving welfare assistance for OFW, we witness the gross misuse of our funds. We witness the OWWA Board of Trustee suspending & denying services to OFWs and their families:

Medical reimbursements suspended: minutes of a January 16, 2004 OWWA Board of Trustees meetings say that medical reimbursements are suspended and employees who proceed to give out reimbursements will face disciplinary action. An OWWA document says pending are the medical reimbursement claims of 281 OFWs (amounting to P1.124 million) and the reimbursement checks of 180 OFWs, amounting P726,000 are being withheld.

Scholarship program for OFW children suspended: interviews with OWWA employees confirm that the OWWA stopped releasing checks for its scholarship program to the schools where OFW dependents are enrolled.

General Financial Assistance Program suspended: OWWA Administrator Angelo instructs the suspension of the General Financial Assistance Program as of July 1, 2003; affected are Burial Assistance, Expanded Disability Assistance, Financial Assistance and General Assistance for countless OFWs who are not covered by the "regular" OWWA program .

Anti-migrant OWWA Omnibus policies implemented - new policies at OWWA deny services to OFWs without current "employment contracts". The policies also effectively "scrap" the medical reimbursement program and repatriation for distressed OFWs.

As OFWs, we contributed US$7.6 billion in remittances to the Philippine economy last year through official bank channels. This year, Bangko Sentral estimates remittances may reach US$7.8 billion.

Every day, 3,000 Filipinos are forced to work overseas because of rising unemployment and massive poverty. We toil largely in the 3D jobs - dirty, difficult and dangerous.

But despite our great sacrifices and contributions to the Philippine economy, President Gloria turns her back on our welfare and worse, she diverts our funds into projects designed to extend her term in Malacanang.

As migrant workers and as Filipinos, we all say enough is enough! Sobra nang nakakagalit!

Since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office, we have been repeatedly sold out and betrayed. First, she told us to stay abroad. Second, she said she will export one million workers a year. Third, she and her puppet Labor Sec. Sto. Tomas sign deals with foreign governments that slash our wages and deprive us of basic rights. Fourth, she said a 5% to 10% wage cut for OFWs in Hong Kong is a good idea. Fifth, she eagerly supports the US-war of aggression against Iraq even if it means the lives and livelihood of 1.5 million OFWs in the Middle East are endangered. Sixth, she fuels the unjust stereotype that we have SARS by telling us not come for Holy Week last year. And lastly, everytime the peso falls, she implores us to send our dollar remittances home - as if we may even have dollars to spare and as if it is our fault if the peso plunges.

Enough is enough. Along with selling us as cheap labor and using us as "milking cows", President Gloria's use of our funds for her campaign while her government denies OFWs services and assistance is the height of cruelty. It is the height of injustice.

We Pledge To:

Safeguard the OWWA trust fund to ensure it is used for the welfare of OFWs and their families

Remain vigilant against moves by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration to misuse further the people's money for President Gloria's self-interest

Forward our call for a pro-people and pro-migrant administration

Forward the rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos and their families

Enough is enough. For OFWs and their families, our plight under President Gloria worsens and our miseries sink to greater depths.

We enjoin all to unite against a most corrupt President who recognizes only her own selfish interests. Let us unite against a President whose term is riddled with anomalies at the people's expense. #

The President is NOT our last, best hope. Filipinos deserve better than GMA!

Pondo ng migrante at mamamayan - huwag gamitin sa kampanya ni Gloria!

Together let's achieve our dream of a Philippines where families are no longer torn apart because of the need to survive.

Recent Statements

Gloria again robs OFW funds for election campaign

Gloria again robs OFW funds for election campaign OFWs denied much needed OWWA services today denounced President Gloria's latest campaign gimmick - the OFW Groceria Project... Full Story Go

OWWA throws P240T OFW funds into Gloria campaign gimmick; ignores OFW with terminal cancer
The Macapagal-Arroyo administration again robs distressed overseas Filipino workers of their funds at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration. "While the OWWA leadership continues to deny OFWs needing immediate medical assistance, it has chipped in P240,000 to launch... Full Story Go
Date: March-6-2004 | For reference: Maita Santiago (0919-333-2803)

| Comments

.. Full Story Go

Date: January-29-2004 | http://www.oocities.com
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