MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has enough funds to bring home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East, according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Budget Assistant Secretary Rolando Toledo said in a briefing on Wednesday, January 8, that the Philippine government can access a total of P1.82 billion for OFW repatriation:
- P1.29 billion from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
- P100 million from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) 2020 budget
- P500 million from the OWWA Fund
“Even without the pronouncement of the President, we already have the budget for repatriation,” Toledo told reporters. (READ: DFA urges Filipinos to cancel all travel to Iraq after U.S. killing of top Iran general)
When President Rodrigo Duterte signed the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, he ordered the creation of a “standby fund” to evacuate 1.2 million Filipinos from the Middle East, as tensions rise because of the killing of Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a United States drone strike.
Duterte had even asked for a possible special session for the 18th Congress this week, to possibly approve a supplemental budget for the evacuation.
But Toledo said the Philippine government can also access its P13-billion contingent fund, should the budget be insufficient.
The release of the contingent fund is subject to the approval of the President. But the DBM said the exact funding requirements for the mass evacuation of Filipinos from the Middle East have yet to be determined.
On Wednesday, the DFA raised Alert Level 4 for Iraq, which means mandatory evacuation for the more than 1,000 Filipino workers there. There is also an existing ban on deployment of new workers to Iraq. – Rappler.com