Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has called on the Senate to investigate the disbursement and utilization of the emergency repatriation fund under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) intended for repatriation expenses of distressed overseas Filpino workers (OFWs).
Marcos proposed the inquiry in Senate Resolution No. 32, which he filed on Thursday, entitled, “Directing the appropriate Senate committee to investigate, In aid of legislation, the state of the Emergency Repatriation Fund under the administration, control and supervision of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), to evaluate its utilization and disbursement, and assess its effectiveness in addressing the prompt needs of distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OWFs) Worldwide.”
Marcos filed the resolution following reports of a “sex-for-flight” scheme allegedly perpetrated by some embassy and labor officials posted in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and Syria victimizing distressed OFWs by promising them free plane tickets to return to the Philippines in exchange of sexual favors.
He said plane tickets are free for distressed OFWs to be repatriated since the government is mandated to shoulder such expense under Republic Act 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995, as amended.
Second paragraph of Section 15 of RA 8042 states: “The Overseas Welfare Workers Administration, in coordination with appropriate international agencies, shall undertake the repatriation of workers in cases of war, epidemic, disaster or calamities, natural or man-made, and other similar events without prejudice to reimbursement by the responsible principal agency. However, in cases where the principal or recruitment cannot be identified, all costs attendant to repatriation shall be borne by the OWWA.”
The same section provides the creation and establishment of an emergency repatriation fund under the administration and control of OWWA, initially to consist of Php100 million.”
“We need to know how this fund was or being disbursed. The people handling this should explain and we have to hear from them to know what happened,” Marcos said.