To protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Vice President Jejomar C. Binay has vowed to increase the OFW legal assistance fund (LAF), which helps OFWs in distress.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), 90 Filipinos are facing the death penalty abroad. The LAF can be used for OFWs’ legal concerns such as filing cases against erring or abusive employers, hiring lawyers, bail and other litigation expenses.
Binay lamented that there’s a budget for the LAF, but the administration did not release the fund.
Republic Act 10022, or the amended Migrants Workers Act, sets aside not less than P100 million yearly for the LAF, which the DFA handles.
But when the President signed the 2015 GAA, the LAF was included in the President’s Veto Message particularly under conditional implementation, saying that there was no income source to justify the creation of the fund.
Senator Nancy Binay also questioned the DBM’s proposal for a “zero” budget for the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA). She noted that the proposed 2016 GAA did not contain a special provision for the LAF, when previous GAAs had it.
The increase in the LAF is one of the steps that a Binay administration will implement to protect the welfare of overseas Filipinos.
Binay added that it is high time for OFWs to have their own bank so that their earnings can be augmented.
The Vice President also promised to increase the skills of OFWs, especially of domestic helpers.
The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that OFWs sent around $25.767 billion back to the Philippines last year. A total of 2.3 million Filipinos worked abroad in 2014, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). (Joel C. Atencio)