Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Saturday urged the national government to act swiftly to mitigate the impact of unemployment on 7.3 million jobless Filipinos and their families, including thousands of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
“The government should roll out livelihood programs and augment funding for programs that provide temporary jobs and loans to people who’ve lost jobs and their sources of income to the pandemic, including our modern day heroes – thousands of them returned to the country with meager savings and no means of income,” Drilon said.
The senator also expressed alarm over the possible economic and social consequences of the increasing unemployment, if not acted upon immediately and also called on the Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and OWWA Administration Hans Leo Cacdac “to actively fund and provide benefits to returning OFW.”
Drilon said the OWWA should use its over P20B in assets to help OFWs and stop relying on the national budget in consideration of the increasing budget deficit, adding that the said funds could and should be used to help OFWs by providing them adequate financial, livelihood and other assistance.
He reprimanded the OWWA for its insufficient and dismal assistance to OFW.
“The OWWA Fund was specifically created for the purpose of providing social and welfare services to OFW. Secretary Bello and Administrator Cacdac should stop thinking of OWWA’s return on investment, but the OFWs’ welfare,” said Drilon.
The minority leader earlier filed Senate Resolution No.417 which calls for an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the adequateness and sufficiency of the OWWA assistance to OFW affected by the pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has gravely affected Filipino workers abroad, with about 250,000 OFW requesting assistance from DOLE and around 80,000 repatriated OFW without prospects of re-employment,” Drilon said.