Tight rules of the Commission on Audit (COA) restrict the government from helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress abroad who need financial assistance, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said.
He stressed the need for the CoA to liberalize its rules to remove clogs preventing the release of funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) necessary to provide assistance to Filipino workers abroad needing government help for various reasons.
The “OWWA has (a) huge trust fund. But this remain(s) largely untapped because of the rules and regulations of the CoA on the use of this fund,” Marcos said.
If necessary, he said, he was ready to introduce the proper legislation to remedy the situation.
The CoA rules, Marcos said, do not address the needs of distressed OFWs, which was why the OWWA trust fund was established in the first place.
He cited the problems of OFWs with legalities, criminal charges, those who are not allowed to return home, and those who die abroad.
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.