Gabriela Women’s Party on Monday urged the House of Representatives to investigate where the P250 million OWWA fund set aside last year for OFWs affected by the global financial crisis went.

“The Arroyo government’s so-called ‘assistance program’ for Filipino workers displaced by the global financial meltdown could be a ruse to divert millions of OFW money to the pockets of corrupt government officials,” Rep. Luz Ilagan said.

Ilagan’s call for investigation was brought about by the “duping” incident in Malacanang last December, wherein around 100 retrenched workers from Taiwan were escorted to the presidential palace supposedly to accept checks amounting to around P50,000.

But after they were used for a photo gimmick by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the OFWs were asked to return the checks.

Ilagan demands that DOLE Secretary Marianito Roque and OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimson be included in the investigation as they were the ones who escorted the OFWs.

“The incident was a grand show of this government’s insensitivity and further exploitation of migrant workers. The OFWs have already lost their jobs and still they were cruelly used and tricked by the institutions and people they are relying on for help,” said Ilagan.

The P250 million crisis fund came from the P11.2 billion OWWA has accumulated using the $25 OFW mandatory membership fee.

Thus, Ilagan said, “Filipino overseas workers should have immediate access to this fund as it came from their own sweat and blood.”

Gabriela Women’s Party also demands that the Philippine government, through its departments and agencies, particularly DFA, DOLE and OWWA, establish a more responsive program for Filipinos displaced by the global financial crisis, other than the current questionable program which requires a tedious and lengthy application process.

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