Aquino administration has sufficient funds to address crisis situations

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A March 21, 2011 press release by the Department of Budget and Management
Secretary Abad: Government allocated P729.2-M so far to aid distressed OFWs
Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad said the Philippine government has sufficient funds to address the crisis situations that are currently affecting Filipinos in various countries throughout the world.
He stressed that budget is not an issue in these situations but pinpointed the logistical hurdles that continue to challenge the Philippine embassies abroad because emergencies such as the political strife in Middle East and the natural disasters that rocked Japan are unforeseen events.
“We must understand that there are places abroad that cannot be accessed immediately to rescue our nationals, and there are political conflicts that continue to escalate. But the government is reassuring the public that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is on top of the situation,” he stressed.
Citing the availability of government funding to address emergency situations of Filipinos overseas, Abad noted that government has so far allocated P729.2 million to fund the ongoing emergency repatriation activities of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) caught in conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa.
He said bulk of this amount—P500 million—was from the OFW trust fund approved by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Board of Trustees.
Meanwhile, P169.2 million is being used from the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) fund of the DFA where P89.9 million of which came from its 2010 Continuing Appropriations Fund. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) also released recently P50 million to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the ongoing repatriation activities. The newly released budget for DOLE is in addition to its P10 million 2010 Continuing Appropriations Fund which is being utilized by the department to aid distressed OFWs.
From the P729.2 million allocated funds for the repatriation, P459.9 million are already spent by the government to the ongoing repatriation drive as of March 10.
Abad said that upon instruction of President Aquino, DOLE, DFA, OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), have closely been working together to assist distressed OFWs in the Middle East and Japan. He also assured that there is sufficient funding for government’s repatriation activities.
He likewise explained that the P500 million OWWA fund for the repatriation is being used for both documented and undocumented OFWs caught in conflict in Middle East. The OFW Trust Fund that are now being used to assist undocumented OFWs will be reimbursed later on by government after accounting for its use.
“After the repatriation operations and after DFA have accounted for how much OWWA funds they have used to rescue undocumented workers, OWWA can be reimbursed using the ATN fund, or if needed, from the Contingency Fund or available savings,” Abad said.
The P50-million fund released to DOLE will be used for the relocation to pre-designated holding areas of OFWs in Middle East such as the Philippine School in Tripoli and the Philippine School in Benghazi, both in Libya.
It will also be used for the evacuation by land from relocation areas to exit points in Tunisia (from Tripoli) and Alexandria, Egypt (from Benghazi). Likewise, this fund will be used for the airfare of evacuated OFWs to Manila via Qatar Airways and Philippine Airlines.
DOLE earlier ordered the implementation of all its reintegration programs and services to assist the distressed OFWs arriving from Libya and to mitigate the socio-economic effects of their dislocation on their families. Agencies are likewise attending to the families of Filipinos in Libya, briefing them about measures being undertaken to safeguard their loved ones.