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MANILA, Philippines – The Manila congresswoman who proposed an additional $25 on top of the existing mandatory $25 membership fee on every departing overseas Filipino worker will withdraw her measure amid worldwide protests, the migrant rights group Migrante-Middle East said Thursday.
Migrante-Middle East said Manila Rep. Ma. Theresa Bonoan-David conveyed through her staff that she is withdrawing her bill, but declined to accept the invitation sent by Migrante to discuss the matter. The group said David had acknowledged having been ill-advised about the matter.
Her House Bill 6195, seeking to double OFWs’ contribution to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration from $25 to $50 per contract, was the subject of a big protest by Migrante, which said it is an unnecessary burden on OFWs.
“Rep. Bonoan-David’s proposal is ill-advised. She may be misinformed because the issue is not about lack of funds. The OFWs trust funds held in trust by OWWA is now about P13 billion and is earning, and yet the OWWA does not have enough programs and welfare services to OFWs and their dependents including the proper use of its Emergency Repatriation fund,” said John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator.
“The OWWA has not been transparent on the real status of the OFWs trust fund and where it is being spent,” Monterona said. “The proposal is also against the mandate of the Migrant Workers Act of 2010 or RA10022.”
The group challenged Bonoan-David to instead “volunteer to channel her millions of pork barrel allocation to OWWA’s emergency repatriation fund.” He added that pro-OFW lawmakers should do the same.
According to Monterona, Migrante International chairperson Gary Martinez had called up the office of Bonoan-David to set a dialogue.
“According to her staff, Rep. Bonoan-David declined the invitation but is thinking of withdrawing the bill after she has realized that she was ill-advised,” Monterona said, quoting information from Migrante International officials in Manila.