Tight rules of the Commission on Audit (COA) restrict the government from helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress abroad who need financial assistance, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. said.
He stressed the need for COA to liberalize its rules to remove clogs preventing the release of funds from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) necessary to provide assistance to Filipino workers abroad needing government help for various reasons.
“OWWA has huge trust fund. But this remain largely untapped because of the rules and regulations of the COA (Commission on Audit) on the use of this fund,” Marcos said.
If necessary, Marcos said he is ready to introduce the proper legislation to remedy the situation.
The COA rules, according to Marcos, do not address the needs of distressed OFWs, which is the reason why the OWWA trust fund was established in the first place.
“That is why there is a need to relax the rules and regulations of COA so that these funds can be used to help our workers abroad,” Marcos said.
He said: “Ang laging nagiging problema ng ating mga OFW ay nagkakaproblema ng legal, nagkakakaso, iyung hindi makauwi, iyung nag-overstaying na at nadedeport, may namatayan, kailangan iuwi.”
The senator pointed out that while the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is trying its best to help OFWs in trouble, its efforts are hindered by insufficient funds.
“What we need to do is to provide the necessary funds to the DFA because problematic OFWs run to our embassies and consulates for assistance. The DFA is willing and ready to help but they don’t have enough funds for example to hire lawyers to defend OFWs who have pending cases in court,” Marcos said.
He stressed that the COA should now revisit its policy and rules to make them responsive to the requirements of OFWs facing problems abroad by removing restrictions in using OWWA funds.
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