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Albay Governor Urges Congress for P750-M Emergency Supplemental Budget for Repatriation of OFWs in Middle East

LEGAZPICITY, Feb. 24 -- Albay Governor Joey Salceda on Thursday urged Congress to pass a P750-million emergency supplemental budget to be used in repatriating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) caught in the armed conflict in four countries in the Middle East.

Salceda expressed dismay over the blame-throwing antics displayed by congressmen during Wednesday's Congressional inquiry on the status of OFWs working in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Egypt.

At the said hearing, members of the committee allowed the Departments of Labor and Foreign Affairs to exchange tirades and blame each other for the government's delay in repatriating thousands of OFWs in the four Middle East countries that are in a state of political turmoil.

Salceda asked Congress to instead work for a “Zero Casualty” goal for the OFWs.

He asked the body to immediately act on passing an emergency supplemental budget amounting to P750 million to finance repatriation of the OFWs in Libya, Eygpt, Bahrain, and Yemen.

The congressional supplemental fund will authorize President Benigno Aquino III to use the amount to negotiate with and engage the services of international plane carriers to fly OFWs back to the Philippines and other manpower services needed to facilitate the mass rescue of Filipino workers abroad.

In facilitating the repatriation of OFWs, Salceda also suggested tapping the services of former House Speaker Jose De Venecia who is known for his experience in foreign relations and having a wide network in foreign countries.

As for the chartering of airplanes, he said the government may start negotiating with the countries of Spain, Italy and other developed countries who have a fleet of aircraft at their disposal.

Salceda, citing the use of the Calamity Fund under the General Appropriations Act, said the President may use the funds during crisis resulting from armed conflict. (PNA)