The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration had shortlisted six people, including an outgoing OWWA board member, as candidates for new board members of the agency.
The 2010 Model OFW of the Year winner for the land-based sector Ermie Garon topped OWWA’s list of three recommended people as OWWA board representative for the land-based sector.
Meanwhile, executive director Estrella Añonuevo of the migrant NGO Atikha Overseas Workers Communities Initiative, is the top candidate to represent the women sector.
Garon is a native of Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac, as her husband June works in Elk Grove, California.
Añonuevo has been running the NGO Atikha since the mid-1990s, the group being a community-based non-profit initiating economic and social programs for overseas Filipinos and their families. Atikha’s work is visible in San Pablo City, Laguna and Mabini in Batangas.
For land-based sector representative, the second-ranked candidate is Elizardo Narag of the Alyansa ng Makabagong Bayaning Manggagawa while ranked third is outgoing OWWA board member Jose Jouelito Sapio.
Meanwhile, Josephine T. Cajada of Hong Kong-based Worldwide Kayumanggi Radio, and Loretta G. Brunio, also an OFW, were ranked second and third, respectively, as candidates for women’s sector representative.
Section 32 of Republic Act 10022, or the amendment to the 1995 Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (Republic Act 8042), had mandated OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to select representatives from the overseas Filipino workers sector — whether an OFW or an advocate for migrant workers — as board members.
The names of the six candidates, said OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon in a paid advertisement, “will be endorsed to the Office of the President for action”.
Civil society leaders for migrant workers groups lament that there is limited participation by OFWs in the boards of POEA and OWWA prior to RA 10022.
OWWA is the world’s largest welfare fund for migrant workers. Its total assets in 2009 reached P13.191 billion as the agency also earned a gross income of P2.224 billion the same year, mostly from the US$25 OWWA membership fees that departing OFWs — on a per-contract basis — pay.
OWWA’s net income in 2009 stood at P1.098 billion, higher than the P0.924 billion in 2008. — Jeremaiah Opiniano/OFW Journalism Consortium