VICE President Jejomar Binay on Sunday promised to increase the legal assistance fund (LAF) for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) if he is elected President.
The LAF can be used by OFWs in distress for litigation expenses such as when filing cases against employers, hiring lawyers and posting bail to secure provisional liberty.
“We will protect OFWs, we will increase the budget for those in need,” Binay, the standard-bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the May 2016 elections, said in a radio interview.
He said the Aquino administration did not release the LAF even if there was a budget for it.
Binay cited his daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, for pushing for the increase in the LAF to P100 million from the P30 million which, his camp said, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) originally proposed for the 2015 budget.
“You know, what is sad is, Senator Nancy sought to increase legal assistance to P100 million, but the DBM was not releasing it,” he said.
Republic Act 10022 or the amended Migrants Workers Act provides P100 million annual funding for the LAF.
Binay said providing OFWs their own bank must be studied.
“I think we should study it, maybe OFWs should have their own bank so that they can invest there because it is their bank, that will augment their income,” he added.
Binay also promised to “raise the quality of our OFWs… maybe, if possible, [domestic helpers]can be the boss of other household helpers. That is how we plan to help the University of Makati.”
Pointing to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Binay’s camp said 2.3 million Filipinos worked abroad in 2014.
OFWs sent about $25.767 billion back to the country last year, according to the central bank, it said.