DBM: Government has sufficient funding for repatriation of distressed OFWs

A March 2, 2011 press release by the Department of Budget and Management

Budget and Management Secretary Florencio B. Abad today reassured the public that there are sufficient funds to support the repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) caught in conflict in Libya and other countries.

He also belied insinuations that supposed cuts in the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are bearing down on its OFW repatriation drive.

“I stress that we have funds that can be used to rescue our OFWs in distress abroad. Contrary to what some observers have said, the issues arising from the ongoing repatriation activities are not budgetary but operational issues,” he said.

“These operational issues are largely due to the emergency nature of the activity and the difficulty and uncertainty of operations due to risks to life and limb, as well as the difficulty of access. This is the bigger problem that government faces, not funding,” he said.

Abad said that the main source of funds for the repatriation of OFWs is the P13-billion OFW Trust Fund administered by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). Already, P100 million has been released by the OWWA Board of Trustees for the operations in Libya.

Apart from the P13-billion OFW Trust Fund, he reiterated that DFA has, at the minimum, P138.7 million which is the earmarked balance for Assistance to Nationals (ATN).

FY 2010 Budget 228.79 139.96 89.96 50.00
FY 2011 Budget 136.48 89.92 48.78 29.06 12.08
TOTAL 365.27 229.88 138.74 79.06 12.08
At the maximum, DFA can use P187.8 million, which is the total balance of the lump-sum fund for the implementation of Republic Act No. 10022—the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 2009—less the P30 million minimum required for the Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) and DFA’s operating expenses in the implementation of ATN and LAF.

He said the DFA budget for 2011 is P11.05 billion, lower by P1.72 billion than in 2010. This is because it has P4.79-billion in estimated savings from 2010, mostly from maintenance expenditures, such congressional insertions that could not be released due to lack of revenue backing and the delayed implementation of the P3.2-billion electronic passport project.