More funds assured to help distressed OFWs

MANILA -- The Philippine government has assured Filipino diplomats, especially in the Middle East, that they would be provided with the resources they would need to allow them to assist more effectively Filipinos in distress.

"I would like to assure them that they will have all the support they would need to let them accomplish the instructions of the President for them to better serve and protect our kababayans there," Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

Cayetano also said he expects the response time of embassies and consulates general to improve significantly beginning next year as a result of the approval by President Rodrigo Duterte of his request for a PHP1-billion budget to assist distressed Filipinos abroad in 2018.

The DFA chief was briefed by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola about the recent consultations she conducted with officials of the country's diplomatic missions in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Arriola assured the ambassadors and consuls general of funding for their assistance to nationals (ATN) programs after she was told that some foreign service posts could not effectively respond to ATN cases due to budget constraints.

"Our ATN budget will be utilized to the fullest to allow our posts to respond more quickly and more effectively," she said. "With the increase in ATN funding, we should be able to accommodate more overseas Filipinos who would need our assistance."

Arriola said the DFA has already spent almost 60 percent of the PHP400 million that was allocated by Congress to support ATN operations abroad in 2017.

Source: Philippine News Agency