OWWA: P70m Lost in Loans to OFWs
Gloria Esguerra Melencio, Arab News
MANILA, 7 May 2008 — Acting Labor Secretary and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Marianito Roque admitted in a congressional hearing that the agency has lost P70 million to unpaid loans of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Roque explained that he suspended the OWWA assistance under its pre-departure loans program because the OFW debtors failed to pay back their loans to the agency.
A total of P100 million fund was allocated to this pre-departure loan program to assist leaving OFWs to process their work visas and other pertinent documents that entails expenses.
He admitted this financial condition during the public hearing of the House Committee on Overseas Filipinos over the weekend.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator, criticized OWWA for “covering up its mismanagement of funds” by blaming the loses on OFWs who allegedly took loans while processing their deployment abroad.
“OWWA is only covering up its misuse and mismanagement of funds of the P10 billion collections from $25 annual membership fee,” he emphasized.
Monterona said that the pre-departure loans program had already been suspended by the OWWA Governing Board in 2003.
He said that a similar incident happened in 2002 when then OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo admitted that a P260 million loan intended for the OFWs’ welfare and loan programs was also lost as unpaid loans.
“This is only to justify the transfer of a P4-billion OWWA Medicare fund to the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation prior to the 2002 presidential election,” he said.
Monterona also said the OWWA has yet to reveal its list of OFW debtors.