By Angie M. Rosales | The Daily Tribune
The Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) faces Senate probe over funds stemming from the recent sex scandal involving alleged labor attaches and embassy officials, it was gathered yesterday.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has filed a resolution to effect an investigation into the current state of OWWA’s emergency repatriation fund which was initially funded in the national budget with P100 million.
The senator is also calling for an audit of the funds and evaluation of its disbursements as well as the effectiveness of the program in the light of recent developments where some Filipino officials posted abroad are alleged to be engaged in a “sex-for-fly” scheme, victimizing distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Some embassy and labor officials assigned in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait and Syria alleged to be promising free plane tickets to those seeking repatriation in exchange for sexual favors.
Marcos noted that 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.
“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.
This is not the first time that the OWWA is being investigated over its disbursement of funds as the agency was likewise subjected to a Senate inquiry by acting Senate President Jinggoy Estrada, as chairman of the committee on labor several years ago during the Arroyo administration.
Marcos said that the second paragraph of Section 15 of RA 8042 states: “the OWWA, 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 P100 million.