Church’s help sought for release of OFWs legal assistance funds

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ANTIPOLO City, August 16, 2012—A migrant watchdog called on the leaders of the Church to join their crusade of helping overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who badly need legal assistance.

In a statement sent to CBCP News, Migrante Middle East asked the Catholic Church to influence President Benigno C. Aquino III, a devout Catholic, to immediately tap the unused money from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), amounting to P52.2 million (US$1,236,117.07 or €1,002,125.99) to help OFWs languishing in different jails in the Mid-East, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-ME regional director, made the appeal after DFA Sec. Albert del Rosario revealed before the Senate that there is still huge amount of money that remain unspent due to the “limiting provisions” of the Migrant Workers’ Act.

Quoted in news reports, del Rosario said that only P7.78 million ($184,272.50 or €149,411.58) had been used from the chest, due to the limitation imposed by the aforementioned law. The DFA chief also revealed that only 196 overseas workers had availed themselves of the fund from 2011 to August 2012.

“This is alarming. The Government is supposed to help our compatriots in need, not to hoard the money which is intended for legal assistance,” the migrant leader said.

“We call upon the Church, especially the Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People to campaign for the immediate release of the remaining funds to be able to put OFWs, majority of whom are falsely accused of petty and other crimes, out of jail and to lower the sentence of those who are in the death row,” he said. [Noel Sales Barcelona/CBCPNews]



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