Over P234 million in still unpaid loans granted over 10 years ago to displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families has prompted the Commission on Audit to ask the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to resort to “legal remedies” to enforce collection.
COA made the recommendation in its 2019 annual audit report for OWWA which is apparently facing difficulties in demanding the return of money borrowed by OFWS and their families.
COA said the failure of OWWA “to enforce the collection mechanism efficiently and the lack of effective monitoring of receivables” has resulted in the accumulation of past due loans totaling P234,384,034.74.
In the report submitted to OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, the state audit agency said the loans were granted by the central office and regional offices in the National Capital Region and Region I.
The auditors also noted that the accumulation of the loans has deprived OWWA additional funds “to finance the programs and projects that will benefit the OFW members.”
Loans have been extended through various programs that included the Filipino Expatriate Livelihood Support Fund for OFWs displaced as a result of the global economic crisis in 2009; the Calamity Loan program for affected OFWs and their families in the NCR and Regions III and IV-A, also in 2009, and Special Loan for 22 OFWs displaced from their jobs in the United Arab Emirates in 2009, among others.
COA urged OWWA to intensify its collection efforts by resorting to various collection remedies like negotiation and compromise settlement.
Legal action may also be resorted to, if warranted, the audit body said.
In the same audit report prepared by Director Elnore Lavilla, COA also scolded OWWA officials for granting cash advances and traveling expenses totaling P239,534 to contract service workers and for its failure to submit monthly report on fuel consumption.
Auditors directed OWWA to stop granting cash advances and reimbursing traveling expenses to its contractual workers.
The non-submission of fuel consumption report was committed by OWWA offices in Regions V and VIII, COA disclosed.