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OWWA fears bankruptcy if OFW sacking persists

Hananeel Bordey

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OWWA and DILG staff assist returning overseas Filipino workers. (OWWA Facebook)

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) faces bankruptcy by 2021 if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic displaces more overseas Filipino workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, during a Senate Labor Committee hearing Wednesday, bared continuous assistance to unemployed OFWs have been drying the agency’s coffers.

OWWA’s P19.6 billion cash assets at the start of 2020 and collections already declined by 46 percent this year.

“We are spending for hotels, food, transportation. These doesn’t include yet the financial assistance which we will embark on,” Cacdac explained when asked by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon if there is a possible bankruptcy of OWWA due to the pandemic.

Cacdac said the Department of Labor and Employment is expecting home 100,000 to 150,000 OFWs.

“We will be down to around P10 billion at the end of the year. By the end of 2021, if this trend keeps up, we will be down to less than P1 billion. That’s not even assuming that our reintegration program will be in full swing,” Cacdac said.

OWWA already spent P1.145 billion for the food, accommodation and transportation assistance to affected overseas workers since 15 March. The reintegration program costs OWWA some P800 million every year pre-Covid.

“We expect 35,000 beneficiaries every year but in Covid year, we think there are at least 100,000 to 200,000 beneficiaries who will seek reintegration assistance,” Cacdac added.

To prevent the possible bankruptcy of OWWA, Cacdac said mother agency Labor department has written Senate President Vicente Sotto III for a P5-billion supplemental budget.

Cacdac said they are stuck between keeping the funds for OWWA’s sustainability and releasing assistance to OFWs.

“We are worried about the future and the incoming year and what that would bring,” Cacdac said.

Drilon assured Congress is more than willing to help the agency but told Cacdac to exhaust all their funds to assist displaced OFWs as it is the mandate of OWWA.

The Labor department said Covid-19 has so far affected 345,000 OFWs.

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