Press Release
September 4, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara sought to realign the programs of the Commission on Overseas Filipinos (COF) during the Committee on Finance hearing of the said office's budget.

"You have taken in too many activities, too many projects that are not in line with your mandate, when in fact, you can conduct research and initiate projects that will make you helpful to overseas Filipinos-- not in duplication with those of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment, or the Department of Tourism" said Angara, Vice Chairperson of the Committee on Finance, to Executive Director Gerite Tirona.

Angara was referring to the COF's budget presentation which included programs on anti-trafficking, tourism, and other support services already offered by other government agencies.

"With your meager P56 million budget, you have little money and manpower to spread yourself too thinly. Instead, why not conduct policy studies that would help government craft better policies for millions of Filipinos overseas" he continued.

Based on the COF report, there are currently 4.06 million overseas migrants, 3.86 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW's), and 650,000 irregular migrants, mostly professionals who are concentrated in the United States of America, Canada, Japan, and Australia.

Urging the COF to concentrate on its main mission of providing advice to government in relation to policies directed towards overseas Filipinos, Angara recounted his visit to a Guatemalan overseas agency in New York that innovated programs to ease remittances back to their country, and provided opportunities for investment into their people.

The COF was created in 1980 primarily to provide advice and assistance to the President in the formulation of policies and measures affecting Filipinos overseas.

"Be more innovative: how about manualizing procedures and facilitating medical and dental missions of overseas Filipinos who want to come to the country and conduct the said programs? Why not research on safe investment vehicles for the OFW's so that part of their earnings are invested instead of it all going to consumption?"

Angara also called on the COF to use its budget more effectively, telling Executive Director Tirona to resubmit their budget for consideration of the Committee. The next hearing is set on September 13.

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