Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator (OWWA) Hans Leo Cacdac assured the industry that the P18.6 billion trust fund for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remains intact as of the moment.
In an interview this morning over Teleradyo’s ‘Sagot Ko Iyan’ program, Atty. Cacdac told the program’s anchor, former senator Joey Lina, that the trust fund had regained its sustainability following the P5 billion fresh infusion for OWWA’s repatriation fund.
Earlier, it was reported recently that Atty. Cacdac had warned that OWWA’s P18.6 billion trust fund would be depleted should the present public health emergency caused by COVID-19 pandemic would continue until 2021.
Atty, Cacdac, however, failed to mention whether or not the figure already include the estimated over P6 billion seafarers welfare fund managed by OWWA.
His warning came following mounting calls from licensed manning agencies for OWWA to foot the bill for the repatriation cost of returning seafarers.
When ex-senator Lina asked about the status of the trust fund, the OWWA chief said: “We’re fine. Nabawasan lang ng konti, pero hindi naman nalagay sa peligro. Nagkaroon ng sustainability.
“Nagpapasalamat tayo dahil na paunlakan ni (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado ang sulat ni (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello (III) na bigyan ng P5 bilion (ang DOLE) for 2020.”
Atty. Cacdac added: “Dahil dito hindi na po natin gagalawin ang trust fund for food, hotel accommodation and transport (of returning OFWs). Doon na po natin kukunin sa binigay ng DBM.”
Yearly, Congress appropriates P150 million for DOLE’s OFW Repatriation Fund, but this was depleted during the first few weeks of the pandemic, so OWWA had started to draw funds from the trust fund for food, accommodation and transport of OFWs, excluding seabased workers with manning agencies.
He said that OWWA had spent over P1.2 billion as of first week of July; of this amount, P850 million was spent for hotel accommodation of 47,00 0 OFWs billeted in various hotel facilities. The rest went to food and transportation.
In spite of the P5 billion supplemental budget for the repatriation of OFWs, however, OWWA continues to refuse the appeals of manning agencies to subsidize food, hotel accommodation and transport of returning seafarers.