9 others to be charged for OWWA fund transfer

By Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2011 11:22 PM | Updated as of Apr 29 2011 03:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Everyone who signed a resolution of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Board of Trustees for the approval of the transfer of over P530-million worth of overseas Filipino workers'(OFW) funds to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth/PHIC) in February 2004 will be included in the plunder complaint filed by former Solicitor General Francisco Chavez before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and 3 others.

The transfer of funds forms part of the basis for the filing of a P554-million plunder complaint filed on Tuesday against Arroyo, former Executive Secretary and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and former OWWA administrator Virgilio Angelo.

Chavez said he could not afford to be selective of who should be made accountable for OWWA Board resolution No. 005 Series of 2004 dated February 2, 2004, which allowed the transfer of the funds to Philhealth from the OWWA Medicare Program.

"Everybody is to be held accountable," Chavez said.

Those who signed the resolution were then Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas who was also then chairperson of the board; Angelo, board vice-chair; then Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator and now Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz; Manuel Imson, former Labor Undersecretary; Mina Figueroa, a representative of the Finance Department; Caroline Rogge (management sector); Victorino Balais (labor sector), Gregorio Oca (sea-based sector); and Virginia Pasalo (women's sector).

In a message relayed to ABS-CBN News earlier, Baldoz said she will cooperate in the DOJ investigation, while Duque claimed the fund transfer was above-board.

Those who did not sign included Jose Brillantes, undersecretary for Foreign Affairs; Eduardo P. Opida, assistant secretary for Budget and Management; Corazon Carsola(land-based sector); and Virginia Pasalo(women's sector).

They will not be included in an amended complaint that Chavez  is poised to file in June when he returns from a month-long US trip.

In the plunder complaint he filed against Arroyo, et al., Chavez claimed that the transfer of OWWA funds to Philhealth was "for purely partisan purposes, particularly to enhance the electoral campaign of respondent GMA in the 2004 elections."

Duque, in an interview with the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC), however, said the OWWA funds were transferred to Philhealth only in 2005, not during election year 2004, and did not violate the OWWA charter.