QUEZON City, August 14, 2014— A Filipino Catholic priest based in war-torn Libya said the P10,000 financial assistance offered by the Philippine government to repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) is not enough.
“…(S)ome OFWs, especially those with large families, complain that amount is still not enough,” Fr. Celco Laraccas, parish priest of St. Francis Catholic Church, said over Radyo Veritas.
The priest explained that the government’s monetary aid of P10,000 is measly compared to the 1,000 Libyan dinar (P80,000) Filipino migrant workers earn every month on average.
Laraccas noted that the amount, when converted, is equivalent to only 200 Libyan dinar, which many OFWs find insufficient.
He said the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Association (OWWA) must have a system similar to Social Security System (SSS) that allows regular contributors to avail of a loan or a pension, as high as P80,000 and other employment security benefits when they return to the Philippines.
In an earlier report, Fr. Amado Baranquel, a Filipino priest who heads the Mary Immacolata Parish in Benghazi, said it is this discrepancy in income that forces Filipinos to remain in the predominantly Muslim country in spite of the ongoing conflict there.
Laraccas urged the government to make good on its promise of employment to OFWs who have already been repatriated.
“There are so many things they [government officials] had promised to OFWs in 2011 that were never fulfilled. They’re singing the same tune this time around,” observed Laraccas. (Raymond A. Sebastián)