The Filipino Times News 13 September 2015

The Filipino Times

13 September 2015


Legal assistance fund for OFWs a mere fraction of total remittance


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Photo Credit: HOMEWARD BOUND. Carol Munoz, third from left, holds a mock copy of the plane ticket. With her from left are Atty. Michael Barney Almazar; a staff with the Consul General’s office; and Consul Ryan Pondoc.


DUBAI: With legal assistance fund for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) a mere fraction of the total amount remitted by OFWs, Atty. Michael Barney Almazar, a crusading lawyer from Gulf Law, has taken on the initiative to help fill the gap by himself facilitating repatriation tickets to distressed OFWs under the care of the Philippine Embassy. This, on top of the regular legal clinic he and his team conduct at the embassy and the Philippine Consul General’s Office.

“Ang remittance po ng mga OFWs sa Pilipinas was worth USD26 billion in 2014 or about PHP 1.2 Trillion but the legal assistance fund para sa ating mga OFWs ay PHP100 million lamang,” Almazar told The Filipino Times (TFT).
“I am privileged that dahil po sa akin sitwasyon dito sa United Arab Emirates (UAE) ay nakakatulong po ako upang mapunan kung anu man po ang kulang pa na matatanggap ng ating mga OFWs,” he added.

Two OFWs who had ran away from their their employers were recently able to return home after Almazar facilitated their tickets through sponsors.

Almazar, director of Gulf Law’s commercial department, identified them as Carol Munoz from Visayas, and Kristel Ronquillo of Pampanga. He said Gulf Law made special arrangements with their employers for their release.

The two had been under the care of the Philippine Embassy after seeking help through the Mission’s Assistance to National (ATN) program, according to him.

“We are giving two repatriation tickets every month for distressed OFWs at the Philippine Embassy and Consulate. This is part of the launch of ‘The Essential OFW Guide to UAE,’” Almazar told TFT, referring to a handbook about the United Arab Emirates (UAE) he had authored with contents guiding OFWs on everything they need to know about the country, including its laws and culture.

He said the program was started in August, months after the free legal clinic commenced early this year. “This is a regular program. We prioritize those with travel documents and clearances already. It is one of the advocacies of Gulf Law to see our OFW reunited with their loved ones back home,” he said.

Sponsors include Gulf Law and Cebu Pacific, according to him.

Almazar has a legal consultancy license in the UAE and is a lifetime member of the Philippine Bar. He holds a Juris Doctor and MBA dual degrees on international business and European law from the University of London.

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