DAVAO CITY – Militant lawmakers under Makabayan bloc in Congress filed a bill providing P500,000,000 as legal assistance for distressed Overseas Filipino Workers.
House Bill 5704 aims to provide half billion of legal assistance fund for 2015 to counter the veto of President Benigno Aquino III “and ensure that those languishing in jails, especially those in death rows, will be given a chance to avail of legal services while being charged abroad.
The amount is said to cover roughly 1,100 OFWs in jails abroad.
In its explanatory note, the Makabayan bloc cited the case of OFW Mary Jane Veloso who was charged with drug trafficking and is facing death sentence in Indonesia. Veloso’s case “mirrors the tragedy of many overseas Filipino workers who, in seeking better job opportunities abroad, become victims of human and drug trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” the lawmakers said.
“Veloso is one of the 6,000 Filipinos who go abroad daily to search for decent employment as government’s ‘foreign investor-led development’ has only fueled increasing unemployment in the country,” they said.
OFWs personal remittances in 2014 set an all-time high for the Philippines at $26.93 billion, according to the Banko Sentral ng Pilipinas.