Bayan Muna warns of misuse of 2006 budget for Cha-cha

Migrant groups slam plan to use P1 B OWWA funds for OFW bank

Migrant groups hit President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s plan to use P1 billion of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) funds for the conversion of the Philippine Postal Savings Bank into an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) bank.

The president recently announced that the OWWA money will be used to modernize the facilities of the postal bank so that it can be turned into the Philippine Overseas Postal Bank (PPSB), a “remittance-hub” for OFWs. PPSB President Rolando Macasaet said the new bank would be operational in three to six months.

“We remind Arroyo that the OWWA is a trust fund and not a personal piggy bank wherein she can dip her deceitful hands,” said Migrante International chairperson Connie Bragas-Regalado.

The same sentiment is shared by the national organizations of OFWs and Philippine women in Canada.

“The government should instead genuinely focus on protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of OFWs,” said Roderick Carreon, chairperson of SIKLAB (Advance and Uphold the Rights of Overseas Filipino Workers)–Canada.

Migrante said that the OWWA fund is a trust fund comprised entirely of “a forced US$25 membership fee collected from OFWs,” now reaching a current fund balance of about P8 billion.

“It’s especially irregular for OWWA to commit the P1 billion given that many OFWs are denied or given a hard time accessing its limited services. This is in addition to past instances of OWWA’s corruption and misuse of OFW funds,” Bragas-Regalado added, noting ongoing investigations at the House of Representatives about previous incidents of alleged OWWA fund misuse.

Among the cases of OWWA corruption that Migrante International exposed in the past are the P530 million transferred to PhilHealth, the US$293,500 withdrawn to prepare for a massive evacuation of OFWs from the Middle East that reportedly never happened, the P100 million transferred to the Office of the President’s National Livelihood Support Fund, and the controversial P664 million investment for the Smokey Mountain Project.

Bragas-Regalado also cited an OWWA 2004 Audit Certificate by the Commission on Audit that states the OWWA has P129.89 million in unliquidated cash advances and outstanding receivables of about P87 million from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Government Service Insurance System – whose recovery was “remote.” (

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1 of 4 2006 college graduates will be jobless – Ibon

Independent think-tank Ibon Foundation said that at least one in four college students who graduate this year will be
unable to find jobs.

Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) data showed that there will be some 447,847 college graduates for school year 2005-2006. But the January 2006 Labor Force Survey shows that only 98,000 wage and salary jobs were created during the survey period, as opposed to own-account and unpaid family work.

Ibon research head Sonny Africa said that majority of the graduates who can’t find employment here may opt to work abroad. But Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) estimates showed there are only some 250,000 new hires of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) annually.

This would mean that this year’s graduates will be competing for only some 348,000 jobs, and nearly 100,000 graduates may be unable to find work, said Africa.

He added that those graduates who do find work may have to settle for jobs below their educational qualifications. He pointed out that only some 20-30 percent of either wage and salary jobs or overseas employment could be said to require college-level skills, hence most of the graduates may work at jobs below their credentials, and may even earn far below what should be expected of their level of education.

The difficulty local graduates have in finding rewarding jobs, Africa said, highlights not only the failure of the current administration “to meet its self-set employment generation targets, but the bankruptcy of its economic policies as well.” (

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