Press Release
September 23, 2015

Jinggoy: Services for OFWs to improve with new OWWA Charter

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada expects assistance and welfare services for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to further improve with the enactment of the new charter of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and the principal author of Senate Bill 2955 or an Act to govern the operations and administration of the OWWA, said that the passage of this measure will, among others, ensure that membership contributions collected from OFWs will be fully used for programs beneficial to them as the national government will now shoulder costs for personal services and maintenance and operating expenses of the agency.

Section 55 of the bill states that Congress shall annually appropriate the necessary amount to meet the funding requirement for personal services and MOOE of OWWA. Moreover, the government may also allocate funds for the implementation of any programs of OWWA.

"During our initial public hearing on this bill which I presided over last December 2013*, a migrant workers group raised the issue that the OWWA funds collected as $25 membership fees are also used to defray costs of the daily operations of the agency. These funds could already be used to repatriate distressed and runaway OFWs or hire good lawyers for our OFWs who are facing charges abroad," Jinggoy recalled.

According to a report of the Commission on Audit, the OWWA's expenditures for personal services and MOOE for 2013 accounted for more than 40% of the agency's annual expenses.

Senate Bill 2955 also provides guidelines on the disbursement of the OWWA Fund, full public disclosure and transparency of its records, as well as safeguards on investment administration and operative budget preparation.

Moreover, the bill espouses a reorganization plan and staff qualifications upgrading program which will ensure increased visibility of OWWA from the head office to the regional offices, efficient and optimized delivery of services to the OFWs, including the promotion of membership to non-members across the globe.

The OWWA is also mandated to offer wide-ranging OFW welfare systems including reintegration program, repatriation assistance, loan and credit assistance, on-site workers assistance, death and disability benefits, health care benefits, education and skills training, social services, family welfare assistance, and other appropriate programs that provide timely social and economic services.

Sen. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, acting chairman of the labor committee, sponsored on Tuesday Committee Report 255 or the consolidated version of 5 separate Senate bills on the proposed OWWA Charter.

"I would like to thank Sen. Angara for shepherding this important measure which will benefit millions of our OFWs," Jinggoy said.

The OWWA Act is among the 10 priority legislative measures of Sen. Estrada for the current 16th Congress.

A counterpart measure in the House of Representatives, House Bill 4990, was already approved on Third Reading.


* The preliminary hearing was followed by 6 more meetings of the technical working group, the last of which conducted last July 13, 2015.

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