Legal assistance fund for OFWs replenished in next year’s budget | Global News

Legal assistance fund for OFWs replenished in next year’s budget

By: - Reporter / @cynchdbINQ
/ 07:22 PM October 08, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—The government is replenishing the P100-million Legal Assistance Fund for overseas Filipino workers  in the budgetary allocation for the Department of Foreign Affairs  so it could continue to extend legal protection to the growing numbers of OFWS facing charges in their host countries.

“We are counting on the LAF (Leagal Assistance Fund) to extend ample legal protection to the growing number of OFWs coming into conflict with the law in their respective host countries,” House Assistant Majority Leader Eduardo Gullas of Cebu said.

“As more Filipinos go abroad to seek greener  pastures, those getting into potential trouble with the law will also likely increase. The LAF is there to be used exclusively to support their legal defense,” he added.


Under the proposed 2012 General Appropriations Act that was approved on second reading by the House of Representatives, a fresh allocation of P30 million would keep the LAF at P100 million, said Gullas, a member of the House committee on labor and employment and the committee on appropriations. The GAA will be submitted to the House plenary next week for third and final reading.


The LAF was first established by law with P100 million, of which P50 million was sourced from the Contingency Fund of the President, P30 million from the Presidential Social Fund, and P20 million from the trust fund of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The fund is run by the DFA’s legal assistant for migrant workers, who is responsible for the provision and overall coordination of all legal aid services to OFWs and other Filipinos abroad.

In its budget presentation to the House, the DFA cut the LAF due to budgetary constraints.

Gullas said expenses chargeable against the LAF include the professional fees of foreign lawyers who represent OFWs facing charges, bail bonds to secure the temporary release of those detained, and other costs associated with going to court.

The cases of Filipinos Sally Ordinario-Villanueva, 32, Ramon Credo, 42, and Elizabeth Batain, 38, who were executed in China on March 30 this year, became a highly emotional issue in the Philippines.

The three were convicted of drug smuggling and put to death, despite repeated pleas by the Philippine government for their sentences to be commuted.


Still on OFWs, Gullas said another P50 million has been earmarked to support their economic reintegration through livelihood and jobs programs upon their return.

He said the amount was on top of the P2-billion fund meant to help reassimilate returning OFWs through sustainable small business opportunities.

Government recently launched the fund in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.

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The Philippines deployed a total of 1,470,826 workers overseas in 2010 – four percent, or 48,240, more than the 1,422,586 it set out in 2009.

TAGS: budget, Congress, Labor, OFW, Overseas Filipino workers

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