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Pinoys mount online petition vs. proposed $50 OWWA fee

By: ANDREI MEDINA, GMA News June 23, 2012 9:20pm

An online petition was set up to protest against House Bill (H.B.) 6195 which seeks to raise to $50 the contributions of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

online petition, the brainchild of Maria Elizabeth Embry and hosted by petition site Go Petition, asks government officials to reject HB 6195.

“We, the undersigned urge the Members of the Philippine House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, the members of the Philippine House of Representatives and of the Senate to reject House Bill 6195 (HB 06195),” the petition stated.

“We, the undersigned believe that the $50 will further burden the OFWs by adding to the cost of fees they currently pay, even before they leave home. All these financial obligations eventually lead into debt bondage,” the petition said.

HB 6195, authored by Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David (Fourth District, Manila) seeks to amend Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, according to a
news release on the Congress website.

She said that by
raising the OFWs` contribution from $25 to $50 per person "will help to sustain an Emergency Repatriation Fund (ERF) for distressed OFWs."

R.A. 8042 already created an ERF under the administration of OWWA with an initial funding of P1 million.

Disagrees with solon`s explanation

"There are millions of OFWs all over the world which the Philippine government is mandated to protect and safeguard under RA 8042 but it seems incapable to efficiently help distressed OFWs due to financial constraints," Bonoan-David said in the news release.

However, the petition disagrees with Bonoan-David’s explanation.

"We, the undersigned believe that the government in looking for funding should search beyond the pocketbooks of the OFWs. Milking cows get better treatment than the way our government burden the already overburdened OFWs,” said the petition.

“Buhay, pagod, luha at lungkot ang puhunan nang mga OFWs, huwag na ho nating dagdagan ang hirap nila. Ang kailangan nila ay tulong, hindi pabigat sa buhay nila,” the petition pointed out.

“Therefore, we the undersigned urge all our legislators:
OPPOSE HB 06195... REJECT HB 06195... SAY NO to HB 06195!” it concluded.

The migrant workers group
Migrante International also opposes H.B. 6195.

“We will be more than willing to sit down with her and explain to her our basis for strong opposition to the bill,” Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez said in a news release posted on the group`s website.

He urged the lawmaker to "re-think the bill after conducting consultations with OFWs and other stakeholders."

“We do not know who Rep. Bonoan-David has been consulting but while her intentions may be noble, the bill is definitely unwelcome to OFWs,” Martinez said. - VVP, GMA News


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