MANILA — Manila-based migrant NGOs are set to file for a temporary restraining order on the conversion of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) into a national government agency which, they said, could cause the transfer of over P6 billion in OWWA funds to the National Treasury.

MANILA (PRWEB) November 20, 2003

Manila-based migrant non-governmental organizations are moving to stop the conversion of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in a national government agency (NGA), which, they say could result in the transfer of more than billion in OWWA funds P6 to the national treasury.

If and when that happens, Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) President Carmelita Nuqui said, the OFW contributions accumulated over the years could be converted into a slush fund for the government.

? The national government? s of petty cash funds,? Batara said John of the Centre for Overseas Workers (COW) sarcastic. At present, the OFW contributions are kept in a trust fund managed by OWWA for its members.

The move to convert to an OWWA NGA is part of the new OWWA Omnibus policies adopted by the Board of Directors of the OWWA led by Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas with OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo as Vice President September 19, 2003 by Council Resolution 038. The policies were posted on the OWWA as a prerequisite for its implementation.

?? OFW families and returnees excluded

The new policies also limit membership in the OWWA to working OFWs amending rule extending membership to families of OFWs and OFW returnees. This means that the benefits will be granted to members of the OWWA, whereas before, the families of members of the OWWA could benefit from OWWA benefits.

Nuqui, Batara and representatives of other migrants, based in Manila related NGOs seek a temporary order of the Court of Pasay City Regional Trial Court to stop the implementation of the Omnibus policies, since they feel that the majority of them are hostile to the interests of overseas Filipino workers.


NGOs protest

include Merchant Navy Overseas Association (MMOA) browsers? Association for Regional Cooperation and International Networking Organization (Marino), the Organization of marine Blacklisted, Atikha, Akbayan citizens? Action Party, Apostleship of the Sea (AOS), the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP-ECMI), the Center CMPS, Unlad Kabayan, Migrante International, for workers abroad (COW), Kanlungan Center Foundation Inc. (KCFI), Centre for the Defence of migrants? Philippines (CMA-Phils), Development Action for Women Network (DAWN), the Alliance of Migrant Workers and Advocates to Amend RA 8042 (Amendment) and PMRW.

They also want a redefinition of the Charter in light of the OWWA collective political issue, in which the OWWA would almost himself said a government-owned or controlled by the Company (GOCCE).

NGOs asserted the need for OWWA charter in light of the fact that its welfare services are being farmed to other government entities like the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department Social Affairs and Development (DSWD). As Ellen Sana, officer in charge of the Centre for Migrant Advocacy-Philippines (CMA) joked,? That the OWWA funds is left to the OWWA ??.

Nuqui stressed that as the NGA, the OWWA will be entitled to an annual budget under the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

? Once that happens, we don? not know what will happen to the OWWA fund.? Nuqui said. NGOs have expressed apprehension that once the fund is accumulated in the National Treasury, it could be used for other items that OFW welfare.


OWWA employees

the transformation of the OWWA is already as they are taught how to operate the accounting systems for the NSE.

Henry Roxas, a lawyer and former Kaibigan (Friends of Filipino migrant workers) the President said that?? there never was any legal basis for the collection of dues of $ 25 OWWA? that the OFWs are required to pay. He stressed that the authority of the collection comes from the resolutions of the Board and was not included in the OWWA? S original charter. ? There is no legal basis for this collection? he added.


Although collections were

mandated in the Letter of Instruction 537, which created OWWA as an agency attached the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), it referred to collections potential employers.

? Nang di sila maka-Singkil SA employers, workers na lang kinukuha SA (When they could not collect from employers, they took workers)? Nuqui said.

NGOs noted that three of the OWWA? s 12-person board were absent when the policies were approved. While OWWA Administrator Virgilio Angelo said that the three board members were simply absent, sources within the OWWA said a member of the Board, based in Hong Kong OFWs Carsoli Caroline, who represents the area land had not been informed of the meeting.

? Strengthen and consolidate OWWA? s response?

a brochure outlining the new policies, Sto. Tomas said? The policies offer to strengthen and solidify OWWA? S set of responses to the needs of a real dynamic ??.

? As we unveil the new policies for our public, we renew our commitment to service excellence for our Bagong Bayani? she said.

For his part, said Angelo? OWWA Omnibus policies used to the Agency? s guiding principles in the context of implementing the provision of services to its customers?. He added:? It characterizes the heart and soul?? agency to fulfill its mission of a government entity to serve the distinct needs of Filipino workers abroad .??

At a forum on comprehensive policies and a press conference sponsored by the following PMRW, NGOs have come to a consensus that the policies were quickly established.

???????????? No mention of re

Estrella Dizon-Anonuevo, who heads the Philippine Council for Reintegration (PhilCORE), stressed that there was almost no mention of reintegration into the new policies, making it incompatible with OWWA? s the direction supposed to work for the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, including care for their well-being when they return home. In the overall policy, accession to the OWWA is limited only to working OFWs and not to those who have returned home.


According

Nuqui, Angelo assured him that this oversight will be corrected with changes to the policy recently adopted omnibus.

Nuqui said NGOs are assembling a legal team to challenge the political Omnibus. Sana, said an information campaign in all forms of media, including the Internet, must be held simultaneously to support the campaign.

It was also suggested by other NGOs and civil society are trying to make Carsoli Corazon, the representative of the land area based on the board of directors of the OWWA.

? It is only a member of the board, but at least there will be a member who is sympathetic to our concerns? Nuqui said, noting that Carsoli was literally bypassed when policies were enacted omnibus.

???????? Dissect the political Omnibus

Dissect the political

Omnibus, Roxas noted that states that? the OWWA Board of Trustees has the authority to issue its own policies, rules and regulations provided it is compatible with existing laws.? With that, he says,? The Board of Directors of the OWWA arrogated itself is working properly belong to the Congress legislation that changing the laws that created through the policies OWWA Omnibus .??

Moreover, he added,? authority to go out with OWWA omnibus policies is legally questionable .??

Roxas said that since the OWWA runs the government services, it should be an NGA. But since it collects membership fees, it should be a GOCCE. But neither OWWA. ? They do not know if they are an NGA or GOCCE,? Roxas said.

According to Roxas,? Under cover operations, they create an OWWA different from that established in May 1977 by then President Ferdinand Marcos through Letter of Instruction (LOI) 537 .??

Roxas said

an initial study of the laws creating and OWWA Welfare Fund (later called the OWWA Fund) found that in the resolutions of the board of several or the composition of its board of directors was expanded to 12 . (# 30 )????????

International Conference on Rehabilitation

explores the economic potential of OFW funds

By JULIE

Javellana-Santos

OFW Journalism Consortium Inc.

Tagbilaran City, Bohol — In November 1997, Zeta Pasuit Rose returned to the Philippines to manage a farm that was established with the combined savings of a group of servants in Hong Kong.

?? The farm, an initiative of the Hong Kong-based reintegration and savings group (RSG), has given birth to FAMDev, who now heads the Agro Farms FAMDev integrated Dalwangan, Malaybalay, Bukidnon.

? Pasuit, a college graduate, said she had a hard time starting the farm. ? No money was sent and that I had nothing to pay people? S with wages.? She had to pawn her jewels just to make things happen.

? Today FAMDev boasts of rice farms and poultry projects and Nora Mariano, a member of the Forum of Filipino Reintegration and Savings Groups (FFRSG) in Hong Kong, said they are eager to up their own project? FAMDev? the arm of fattening pigs.

? The other group members FAMDev have not even met the diminutive Pasuit. But they trust to handle their economies well.

???????? Seminars reinstatement HK

The group meets every Friday FAMDev in Hong Kong? s public parks. RSG is like another, the Bagong Bayani SA Hong Kong (BBHK), it was formed after a series of orientation seminars on rehabilitation conducted by a nongovernmental organization.


Under the direction of

Unlad Kabayan, members BBHK set aside $ 25 of their monthly income so that by December 1998, they had accumulated more than $ 5,400 or P200, 000. The group then created a school store sales and office supplies in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan.

Unlad Kabayan, the non-governmental organization (NGO) that facilitated this, working with migrant workers to mobilize savings for investment in income-generating enterprises in the Philippines. When the project began their BBHK Cagayan, Unlad Kabayan helped manage for them, since all members were in Hong Kong.

Finally, a group member? the seven original members returned to manage the project, which was no longer a small company, having expanded into a full service cooperative with plans to extend easy credit to its members, some of them are still Hong Kong.


May-Ann

Villalba, Executive Director of Unlad Kabayan, said they launched the company in collaboration with the Hong Kong-based Asian Migrant Centre (AMC) to maximize the earnings of Filipino domestic in Hong Kong , which are really small.

In this way, Villalba said? it does not take too long (to build a nest egg). If it takes a long time to save, you get bored p .??

Asian Migrant Centre is a regional NGO based in Hong Kong that focuses on Asian migrants and their problems. Programs of the ANC? S are not limited to the reintegration of migrants, but also include documentation, information management, research, capacity building, advocacy work and accountability.

?? Another source of funding and resources

Villalba said that?? a development perspective, there is a vast potential for remittances as an alternative source of funding and resources ??.

Remittances

? undoubtedly contribute significant amounts and percentages for the Philippine economy, but are currently unused by the community development? she said.


Companies like

FAMDev were the focal points of discussion at the International Conference on OFW Savings, Remittance and economic potential. A challenge for governance, partnership and Development in the city of Tagbilaran, Bohol during the first week of November

The conference was initiated by Unlad Kabayan in partnership with the CMA, the Philippine Council on OFW Reintegration (PhilCORE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Forum on the reintegration of the Philippines and groups savings (FFRSG), and the Netherlands-based program of assistance to Filipino seafarers (CASP).


Rex Varona

, executive director of the CMA, said they would like to see more companies like FAMDev because of the growing number of Filipino migrants, many of which are experiencing financial difficulties when they decide to go home for good.

He said many end up staying indefinitely in 3D abroad dirty, despised, and dangerous -? jobs. ? And every time there? SA big problem in a host country, the livelihood and residence of migrants is threatened? Varona said.

???????? Presparing for an OFW? Back

Varona

suggested that, as the CMA and Unlad Kabayan, the reintegration program for OFWs should prepare to go home. ? Before we go home, years before that, you have to prepare p .??

? If you work as a maid in Hong Kong, the concept of the program is to help you to form savings groups with the idea that if you do this for several years, you would be able to build savings and capitalization to start some of the return of investment, now we are already calling this might not even be enough. The reintegration process must begin with pre-start? Varona said.

Villalba agreed, saying? it is clear that a deliberate plan and complete lack? in the effort to mobilize remittances for development … What is needed is a discount and the national economic development that will encourage OFW savings and prudent investment in income-generating enterprises in the Philippines. A vision must be created and shared by all stakeholders and strive to empower OFWs and provide incentives and support to encourage entrepreneurial behavior.?

In line with this, several local NGOs in partnership with the government last year to develop a reintegration plan for all overseas Filipino workers, creating the Philippine Council on OFW reintegration, or PhilCORE.

PhilCORE, OWWA partners with the rehabilitation effort with Unlad Kabayan, Atikha workers overseas and Communities Initiative, Balikabayani Foundation, and the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Conference Catholic Bishops of the Philippines (CBCP-ECMI).

Estrella Dizon-Añonuevo, head of the NGO PhilCORE, said in its year of existence, PhilCORE held a dialogue with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who, he says, recognizes the importance and the need for a reintegration program for OFWs.

Añonuevo said that because of this partnership with the government, the framework and comprehensive rehabilitation programs for the OFWs agreed in PhilCORE are implemented immediately in areas OWWA, ECMI-CBCP regions and NGO communities.

? He was able to reach a broader mass base in a short period of time? she said. In fact, Añonuevo said several provincial consultations have already been made and coordination of advice on OFW reintegration have been established in key areas.

Añonuevo said that in the past, NGOs have ignored their counterparts in the provinces OWWA and OWWA has worked with only a few NGOs and in limited areas. ? Some NGOs fear used to share their strategies and programs for fear of being copied? she said. What has changed for the better co-operation and now he is better and coordination between NGOs and GOs.

At the conference, and Añonuevo Resty dela Fuente, OWWA? s representative in PhilCORE said reinstatement must be made on a separate line in the national budget, by including it in the General Law of Credit (GAA) to not have to rely on OWWA funds for its operations .

???????? The declaration of the conference

conference statement cited the positive contribution of migrants to countries of destination and origin, and their strategic role as agents of social and economic transformation, and recognized the fact that there already initiatives between organizations of migrant workers and their families in savings mobilization and investment in development that are community based and people-propelled.

There are many stakeholders involved in this process, and all should work actively to fill existing gaps in the optimization of savings and investments of TPE.

The conference drew up a list of reminders for OFWs and their families, migrant NGOs, religious organizations and civil society organizations and government institutions, national and local embassies / missions abroad on reintegration.

guidelines for OFWs and their families include:

? Organize for self-emancipation

? Assume an active and central role in mobilizing savings and increased investment-oriented rehabilitation and economic development back in the Philippines

? Defend their rights and promoting the welfare, representation in policy development, and support / assistance to their needs and concerns, particularly in the savings, investments, reintegration and economic development .

The conference also called on NGOs to help migrants in the organization, awareness, capacity building and training of the value of overseas Filipino workers and their families, particularly to savings, investment and economic development.

institutions? faith were invited to work closely with the overseas Filipino workers to support policy advocacy to protect and empower OFWs and their families. Civil society organizations have been instructed to network with OFWs and NGOs in the Philippines and abroad in joint initiatives on savings, investment and economic development. And to facilitate dialogue and links between groups and the government OFW

For their part, government institutions, national and local embassies / missions abroad must:

? Adopt and institutionalize, in consultation with the overseas Filipino workers and other stakeholders, a comprehensive national program on OFW savings, reintegration and economic development

? Provide an environment for OFWs and stakeholders to build economies and economic development initiatives;

? Upscale, reproduce, and to integrate sustainable projects or initiatives on savings, investment, social and economic development

? Provide coordinated, integrated and effective policies and procedures to help small in all phases of migration consistent with international standards of human rights, and

? Work with TPE and NGOs to mobilize migrants? Savings and investment for development.


Others

as academic institutions are expected to support the rehabilitation effort in researching and promoting the development of products and technology transfer and training for overseas Filipino workers.

The private sector is invited to attend the transfer of technology and knowledge, for example, in partnership with business and the media will help OFWs in the dissemination of facts and information on savings, investments and initiatives economics of overseas Filipino workers and their families.

For their part, donor agencies, such as multilateral development banks, should recognize the social value of these initiatives, the full participation of overseas Filipino workers, their families and support networks, and provide resources more.


financial institutions should reduce

transfers and financial charges for migrants should provide equitable access to quality financial services, and provide credit at preferential terms, and without discrimination.


The conference confirmed

respect for human rights and dignity of all migrants and their families based on the principles of non-discrimination and the political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights as enshrined in? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families? which came into force on 1 July 2003.

The conference highlighted the vulnerabilities that migrant workers are in and the negative impact of migration, as well as its high social cost.

At present, the return of migrants global flows amounted to $ 80 billion annually, 10 percent of which comes from more than seven million Filipinos abroad, the Philippines is the third most remittance receiving country in the world.



* * * *

dual citizens: We always like our (former) country

By Stephanie

LOLENG (for Philippine News, http://www.philippinenews.com)

OFW Journalism Consortium, Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO, California? On a cold autumn day in a waiting room at the office Philippines Consulate here on Sutter Street, a group of 25 Filipino Americans patiently waiting to take an oath that would grant them dual citizenship.

passage of the bill of dual citizenship? known as the maintenance of citizenship and Re-acquisition Act of 2003 (Republic Act 9225)? August 29, 2003, many Filipinos who became American citizens gathered at the consulate, fill out applications and lining up for interviews to take the oath to become citizens of the Philippines again.

When the project has adopted a dual citizenship, Royce Buñag, a 46-year high-tech business in San Jose was in the Philippines for a visit, staying at his place in Makati. He said he had waited for the right to pass, carefully following for two years, looking forward to the bill? Approval of s.

native of Pampanga, Buñag became a U.S. citizen when he was 16.

? I don? t really want to give up my Philippine citizenship, but I was only 16 when I was stuffed so I don? t have a choice, but now I can recover? Buñag said.

He said sometimes when he goes for a visit to immigration officials at the airport in Don? Does the stamp his passport with a balikbayan stamp. By law, those born in the Philippines automatically get a stamp that allows them to stay for a year, instead of paying high costs required to extend a tourist visa. If? ISN s passport? T stamped balikbayan, he / she should stay as a tourist, cutting short the visit.

Buñag, many Filipinos go home to the Philippines frequently. Some are retirees who visit for weeks or months at a time, stay at home they bought in their home provinces, while others are commercial properties and business.

There are some limitations on the size of land a foreigner can buy, and the size of their investments and businesses. On the other hand, a citizen can vote, own property, public office and own or operate certain businesses not open to foreigners.

addition to these privileges is also an obligation as citizens to respect the Constitution and laws of the Philippine government and to pay taxes on any income earned in the Philippines.


For Maria

Zuraek, a woman aged 60 from Sacramento, the idea of ​​being able to do business without the limitations that foreigners receive is attractive because it has commercial property and does business in Philippines. She says she was three or four times a year for two months at a time.

? We still love our country course, and we go there very often? Zuraek said.


Zuraek

obtained U.S. citizenship when she moved to the United States in 1974 after only 90 days as a civil engineer.

? We thought that was a good idea for children because I was teaching [the Philippines], but we weren? t go anywhere and it was a bad time? Zuraek said about why she and her husband decided to go to the United States and become naturalized citizens.

She plans to retire some time in the Philippines, as it says? s more comfortable if you have dollars to spend and that she and her husband can watch over inherited properties.

Zuraek brought her husband and son Claude Lester to take the oath with her so they can become citizens and dual. His daughter Zaida is also expected to become a dual citizen. She was born in the United States, but according to the provisions of the bill, if your parents were Filipino citizens at the time of your birth, you can have dual citizenship.

at a quarter 16 hours, the applicants are escorted to the waiting room to another room where the Philippine flag stands before a photograph of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

In this room, the oath is scheduled to take place 16 hours daily from Monday to Friday at San Francisco Consul General Delia Rosal Meñez presiding over the vows.

? The reason you are all here because (Philippines) is still close to your heart? Meñez Rosal said the group met waiting to take their oath.

According to Rosal, a group of Filipinos met 10 years ago to start exploring how they can make dual citizenship for Filipino Americans a reality.

At least 89 countries allow some form of dual citizenship, including the United States, Canada, France, Switzerland, Vietnam, Russia and Austria.

Rosal also reassured U.S. citizens that they will not lose their U.S. citizenship if they take dual nationality.

? When you think of home, uuwi kami di ba (we will go home, isn t it ?),?? Meñez Rosal said. She was referring to a number of retirees who return from the Philippines and apply for resident status must return and pay the cost of heavy immigration to retire in the Philippines.

Pedro Garcia and Gloria Garcia, both 65, living in Monterey, California, but originally from Angeles City, Pampanga, are preparing to retire in the Philippines. They were both asked to come to the United States by Pedro? Brother, becoming U.S. citizens in 1999.

? We want to become dual (citizens), because we want to be re-Filipino? Pedro Garcia. The two plan to go to the Philippines in December and want to stay more than a year in a house they own in the city of Angeles.

During the ceremony of swearing, everyone sang the Philippine national anthem, Lupang Hinirang.


Later

Rosal would hand over dual citizenship certificates to warm applause.

Pedro Garcia reached its certificate and let out a sigh of relief then simply said? Filipino ako (I’m a Filipino ).??

Filipino Americans in San Francisco who wish to apply for dual citizenship, please visit the Consulate of the Philippines at 447 Sutter Street, 6th Floor, Philippine Center Building or call (415) 433-6666.

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