Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

PICHAY offered SBMA post

Arroyo offered OWWA post aside from SBMA, ex-solon says

OFW groups express opposition to Pichay appointment to OWWA

By Veronica Uy, Maila Ager - INQUIRER.net
Overseas Filipino worker groups have expressed opposition to the possible appointment of a former congressman and losing administration senatorial candidate to the top post of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The Center for Migrant Advocacy and the Philippine Migrant Rights Watch said they wanted someone from the ranks of OFWs to handle OWWA and its billions of dollars in OWWA membership fees which they feared might be used for the 2010 elections.

Reports are rife that former Surigao congressman Prospero "Butch" Pichay, who ran for senator under the administration ticket, could take over the helm of the OWWA.

Pichay confirmed to INQUIRER.net that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had offered him the top OWWA post and the chairmanship of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and that there were also other offers of Cabinet positions.

He refused to elaborate however on the Cabinet offers “in deference to sitting officials.”

“OWWA at Subic. Iyan ang talagang inoffer ng President -- a few months ago pa [OWWA and Subic. That is what the President really offered -- a few months ago],” said Pichay who was in Vietnam.

Pichay said that he was considering the OWWA post.

“Maraming offer [There are a lot of offers] but I’m still trying to think about all these offers. In a few weeks, makaka-decide na ako [I can decide]. Inaasikaso ko pa ang negosyo [I am just attending to my business].”

OFW groups which spearheaded the drive to pass the Overseas Absentee Voting Law several years ago have launched a campaign to put Mike Bolos, an accountant who has worked for more than 20 years in Saudi Arabia to head OWWA.

Heeding the government's call for overseas Filipinos to return to the country and contribute to its development, Bolos has since returned to the Philippines to start several business enterprises.

Rashid Fabricante, of the Pinoy-abroad-forum and elagda-Riyadh, started the e-mail thread with the suggestion that OFW groups and migrant rights organizations should lobby for OFW representation at OWWA.

OWWA, which is tasked to promote and protect the well-being of OFWs, was previously headed by Marianito Roque until he was appointed secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment when his predecessor Arturo Brion became associate justice of the Supreme Court.

The attached agency of DoLE does not get any budgetary allocation from the government. It lives solely off the $25- membership fee of every departing OFW.

While the membership fee is supposed to be paid by the leaving OFW's employer, the OFW in most cases pay for the amount.

OFW groups have sought more representation in OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the other DoLE-attached agency concerned with OFWs.

There are an estimated eight million Filipinos who live and work overseas while some 3,000 leave the country every day.

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