MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Saturday justified the decision to suspend the loans program to Filipino workers departing for work abroad.
Speaking in behalf of Labor Secretary Marianito D. Roque, Labor acting chief Romeo Lagman said suspending the program is needed to review the system and come up with a better loan procedure to assist OFWs, and at the same time “continue, sustain and preserve the integrity of the OWWA Fund."
"This is consistent with earlier responses the OWWA had made, which had succeeded in recovering the previous investments and raised the OWWA Fund to a stronger level capable of responding to the needs and exigencies facing our OFWs," Lagman said in a statement.
In previous interview, Roque explained that OWWA has suspended the pre-departure loan program after it incurred losses of about P70 million extended to OFWs.
“I decided to suspend it kasi nga puro utang walang nagbabayad, so nalulugi kami (I decided to suspend it because nobody's paying and we're incurring losses)," Roque said.
Lagman in his statement Saturday defended Roque’s decision, which he said was intended to protect the OFW fund.
Lagman likewise said he emphasized full respect for the concerns raised by the legislative sector on the plight of OFWs, especially those lacking the personal finances needed for their departure for work overseas.
"Thankfully, many if not majority of the OFWs who depart for their employment overseas are able to fend for themselves as to their airfare and other needs on first departure and/or return to work overseas," Lagman noted.
Senate President Manny Villar on Thursday admonished the OWWA for suspending loan program and urged Roque to reactivate the scheme.
"With the suspension of the loan program the OWWA leave our OFWs at the mercy of loan sharks," Villar said. - GMANews.TV