JULY 22 2009

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today said the death of 10 Filipino workers who entered Afghanistan illegally is an indictment of the economic conditions under the Arroyo administration.

“Poverty and despair has worsened under Mrs. Arroyo to the point that many of our workers are willing to risk their lives in order to make a decent living,” he said.

The case of the 10 OFWs “exposes the economic reality under this administration – the economy only looks good in the charts of NEDA but not on the tables of the ordinary Filipinos,” he added.

Palace officials have said Mrs. Arroyo will point to her achievements in improving the economy when she makes her State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27, but Binay said economic statistics should translate into improvements in the life of ordinary people.

“Napakahirap ng buhay sa Pilipinas ngayon, kaya’t kapit sa patalim ang marami nating kababayan na pumupunta sa mga bansang gaya ng Afghanistan .  Their deaths focus attention on the true state of the nation under Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.

The 10 OFWs were on board a civilian helicopter when it crashed in a US military base in Afghanistan . The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said the OFWs had entered the country illegally through Dubai .

Earlier, Binay scored the administration for not matching its aggressive marketing for Filipino labor abroad with adequate mechanisms for welfare protection.

“Many of our OFWs find themselves facing difficulties abroad all because the arroyo administration has put premium on remittances instead of welfare. They are pushed out of the Philippines so they can bring in dollars, without adequate orientation and welfare protection,” he said.

He added that Malacanang’s claim that the rise in OFW remittances was proof that the economy is in good shape is misleading.

“What the figures highlighted is the dependence of this administration on OFW money to keep the economy from totally sinking,” he said.

“Remittances from our OFWs are keeping the economy afloat, and yet the arroyo administration has failed to provide them with adequate protection in foreign countries,” he said.


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