by Jeremaiah M. Opiniano
An OFW Journalism Consortium news flash exclusive
MANILA—THE OVERSEAS Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) spent the highest amount in a decade in 2010, and most of the expenditures were used for assisting repatriated overseas workers and for handing out disability and death benefits.
Documents obtained by the CONSORTIUM showed that the world’s largest welfare fund for migrant workers spent P78.18 million in repatriation assistance last year.
Data showed that OWWA spent most of its funds on financial assistance and repatriation assistance in 2010.
OWWA also spent its highest in a decade last year on projects under the security and protection program at P427.15 million. Apart from disability and death benefits, other services under the security and protection program are financial assistance (P8.5 million in 2010), airport assistance (P1.48 million), health care (P54.08 million), but none spent on legal assistance last year.
Meanwhile, some P284.9 million was spent in 2010 on disability and death benefits, making up for around 17 percent of the P1.654 billion total expenditures of OWWA during the 10-year period.
Both repatriation assistance and disability and death benefits are under the OWWA sub-program on security and protection, which the agency spent some P3.25 billion over the ten-year period. On other sub-programs, the agency spent some P1.1 billion assistance on-site and skills and P782.51 million on career development during the same period.
From 2001 to 2010, some P228.45 million, or 34 percent, were spent on repatriating distressed overseas Filipino workers
The data also included OWWA’s expenditures for its health care program of P1.3 billion, but it only covered 2001 to 2006 when the agency ran a previous program called OWWA Medicare.
After 2006, funds from the old OWWA Medicare program were transferred to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) since the health insurance law mandated PhilHealth to handle health insurance programs for all Filipinos.
OWWA’s main revenues come from the US$25 paid for by each departing new-hire and re-hired overseas workers, including seafarers, on a per-contract basis.#