For Migrante International, the Marcos Jr. administration is treating OFWs as milking cows.
By NICA HERNAEZ
MANILA – A migrant rights group assailed the passing of the 2024 national budget that has a lower budget for services for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
In a statement, Migrante International said that the proposed national budget approved by the lower house “starkly illustrates how the Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration treats OFWs: as milking cows of remittances for the country’s fledgling economy and as slaves not worthy of services and protection.
On Sept. 18, the Senate finance committee approved the proposed P15.54-billion (US$1 = P56.14) budget of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) for 2024. This is lower than its P16.94 billion allocation last year.
On Nov. 4, the House handed the budget to the Senate.
This is despite the increasing remittances from Filipino migrant workers in the last three years.
In the proposed budget submitted by the DMW, the department asked for a relatively lower budget of P3.6 billion for 2024. This is lower than its 2023 allocation of P4.2 billion. Despite this, Congress approved a P6.1 billion allocation for the said office, a huge 82-percent budget increase.
Several DMW programs that center on sending Filipinos to work abroad will receive additional allocation. These are Licensing and Regulation Services subprogram (additional P15 million), Labor Migration Policy and International Cooperation Program (additional P20 million), Maritime Research and Skills Competency Program (additional P54 million).
Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) asked for a P12-billion allocation next year. This is higher than their 2023 budget amounting to P11.7 billion.
However, the House of Representatives only approved a P6.7-billion budget for OWWA, which is a staggering 44-percent cut.
“Debacle after debacle has exposed the Marcos government’s slow and inadequate response to OFWs’ needs: the spike in Filipina deaths and distressed OFWs in Kuwait, the virtual absence of the Philippine Embassy when Israel escalated attacks in Palestine, the snail-paced action on the victims of illegal recruitment scams,” Migrante International added.
On the recent deliberation of the 2024 national budget, DMW is one of the top five government agencies that has underspent the allocated budget of their department, together with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Tourism (DOT). (JJE, RVO, RTS)