Raise the budget for social protection & welfare services for OFWs and Filipinos overseas

Raise the budget for social protection & welfare services for OFWs and Filipinos overseas

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Migrante International started this petition to President Rodrigo Duterte and


We call on the Philippine Government to prioritize and strengthen the social protection and welfare services for OFWs, Filipino migrants and their families by increasing the budget for these programs in the 2021 National Budget. 

Under the proposed 2021 National Budget, only a total of Php 8.6 Billion from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration is allotted to fund programs that seek to assist and support OFWs and Filipino migrants who are distressed. 

The 2021 budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Assistance to Nationals Program (ATN) and Legal Assistance Fund (LAF) did not see any increase at all, amounting to Php 1.2B, the same amount allotted in the 2020 budget. Meanwhile, although the proposed budget for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has significantly increased to Php 7.4B, this amount will not be adequate to serve the thousands of OFWs who remain stranded overseas awaiting to be repatriated and the thousands who have still yet to receive any financial assistance from the government. Under the DOLE-AKAP program, only 280,000 OFWs were granted financial assistance out of the estimated 1 million OFWs who were displaced due to the COVID19 pandemic. 

The proposed budget does not take into account the increased support needed for the millions of Filipino migrants who have been displaced and severely affected by the COVID19 pandemic and who are in need of financial and livelihood assistance, welfare support, repatriation assistance and comprehensive health services. In addition, the proposed budget will potentially leave hundreds of Filipino migrants every year who are victims of labor exploitation, human trafficking, illegal recruitment, gender-based violence, and discrimination neglected for lack of adequate funds to support their cases. 

Increasing the budget would ensure that government agencies such as the DFA and OWWA will be able to strengthen their capacity to protect the rights and welfare of our Filipino migrants and OFWs, and to comprehensively respond to and address their urgent concerns. Additional funds can be directed towards increased personnel, legal advocates, interpreters, and other critical resources to effectively improve the government’s provision of services, social welfare and protection for our vulnerable migrants. 

The 2021 National Budget should focus on comprehensively addressing the economic and health impacts of the COVID19 pandemic in the country and providing free and comprehensive social services for millions of Filipino families. To recover from the pandemic, the people, especially overseas and local workers, farmers and the poor need an expenditure program that heals and unites. It is unacceptable that the budget for debt servicing that siphons needed resources for social services as well as programs which contribute to the escalation of conflict and curtailment of our basic human and democratic rights such as the military (Php 205 B), police (Php 622.3 M) and NTF-ELCAC (Php 19.1 Billion) combined is 20 times more than the total budget for the services the government provides to its more than 10 million OFWs and Filipino nationals abroad.

We therefore call on the Philippine Government to: 

  1. Provide immediate financial assistance in the amount of Php 10K to all Filipino migrants, OFWs and their families affected by the pandemic regardless of status, by allotting an additional Php 7.2B for DOLE AKAP Program. 
  2. Increase the budget for the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Assistance To Nationals Program and Legal Assistance Fund and ensure all Filipino citizens who are in need have access to these funds 
  3. Develop comprehensive and free services for the social protection of OFWs and remove the membership based system:
    • Full government subsidy for programs and services of OWWA 
    • Stop the collection of OWWA membership fee 
    • Return the Php 1.1B funds of OFWs to OWWA.
  4. Provide aid and support for the education of the children of migrant workers
  5. Implement a moratorium on all mandatory state fees charged to OFWs
  6. Reduce the budget for debt servicing, police and military and re-channel the funds to public services 
  7. Abolish NTF-ELCAC and re-channel its Php 19 Billion budget to healthcare, education and other social services 
  8. Prioritize and direct the  2021 National Budget to address the economic and health impacts of COVID19 in the country and focus on providing sustainable jobs and livelihood, decent housing, quality education and protecting the human rights of all Filipinos.
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