LAWMAKERS urged the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to maximize its budget for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers facing issues and concerns.
This after the House of Representatives approved the proposed budget of DMW and its attached agency for next year amounting to P15.54 billion.
One of the issues raised during the deliberations was the low utilization rate of the P9.889-billion Emergency Repatriation Fund (ERF) in light of the global lifting of the COVID-19 pandemic. Q2
The ERF utilization rate so far is only eight percent or only P751-million.
4Ps Party-list Rep. JC Abalos asked how the ERF may be maximized, noting that it still has a balance of P9-billion this year while another P9.7-billion would be allotted as ERF in 2024.
Quezon Rep Jayjay Suarez suggested that the use of the ERF should be flexible, otherwise the government would be waiting for a crisis or pandemic to happen before the ERF may be used.
He said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has prepared a letter to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to allow flexibility on the use of the ERF. One proposed ERF project is to build a shelter in the country for OFWs so they can have a place to stay while in Manila and save money on hotel expenses.
Abalos committed to support the endeavor of working for the amended use of the ERF.
“Bigyan natin ng halfway home ang mga OFWs para di na nila kailangang tumambay sa airport at magkaroon sila ng masislungan pag dumarating sila,” he said.