San Beda Lawyer Blasts DFA, Explain the Importance of ATN & LAF to Help OFWs

Veteran San Beda lawyer and prominent social media personality, Atty. Bruce Rivera, an avid supporter and defender of Pres. Rody Duterte, called out the attentions of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) as he explained the importance of Assistance to Nationals (ATN) and Legal Assistance Fund (LAF).

According to Atty. Bruce Rivera, he read the Annual Audit Report (AAR) of the DFA for 2016, and true enough, he discovered that the Commission on Audit (COA) had some comments about the controversial ATN and LAF which the veteran lawyer have something to share to promote transparency.


Atty. Rivera explained that he read the report of COA, COA noted that because the nature of the ATN is very general because assistance comes in all forms, there must be guidelines that the DFA must submit to the COA in order to determine if it was properly disbursed. For example, without the guidelines, purchasing an LV bag in a Duty Free and having it receipted "Bags" will be allowed because bags are needed by OFWs when they will be repatriated.

Aside from the purchased bags inside Duty Free, Atty. Rivera also gives an example by saying that a  breast augmentation procedure can pass off as medical expenses. Hence, in the absence of an issued guidelines, it is easy to use the funds not for the intended purpose and get away with it since in the eyes of the COA, there's no problem.

Atty. Rivera questioned the leadership of the DFA in using the budget for the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) and Legal Assistance Fund (LAF).



Here's the Complete Statement of Atty. Bruce Rivera:

CALLING ON THE DFA, ONCE AGAIN....

I read the Annual Audit Report (AAR) of the DFA for 2016 because they have not submitted the AAR for 2017. And true enough, the COA had some comments about the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) and Legal Assistance Fund (LAF). For purposes of transparency, let me try my best to explain.

First, the COA noted that because the nature of the ATN is very general because assistance comes in all forms, there must be guidelines that the DFA must submit to the COA in order to determine if it was properly disbursed. For example, without the guidelines, purchasing an LV bag in a Duty Free and having it receipted "Bags" will be allowed because bags are needed by OFWs when they will be repatriated. Or a breast augmentation procedure can pass off as medical expenses. Hence, in the absence of an issued guidelines, it is easy to use the funds not for the intended purpose and get away with it since in the eyes of the COA, walang problema.

As of presstime and despite earnest efforts to look for it, I have not seen the new guidelines on the matter. The last one on record with the COA was MC 7-13 issued on September 15, 2013. Which now begs the question: Where is this elusive guidelines. Joel Wayne Arconado Ganibe has been asking for it a long time ago.



Second, back in 2016, when the budget of the ATN and LAF was just PhP500,000,000.00, the DFA returned around PhP133,798,134.87 because it was UNUTILIZED. Meaning, roughly 27% of the funds are not used. With more than PhP1,200,000,000.00 funds available for 2018, an increase of 120%, why are some embassies saying that they lack ATN funds when it is not even the middle of the fiscal year.

Third, the reasons given by the DFA in 2016 why the ATN and LAF was not fully spent was because there were no distressed OFW who needed the funding since most of the OFW are documented and that there was no major major crisis and/or large-scale evacuation or repatriation.

But Kuwait? If there was a large-scale evacuation that would have happened in Kuwait because of that leaked rescue video, that could have been a reason for full utilization of the ATN and LAF Funds. Mabuti na lang, hindi natuloy. So siguradong, mas madaming matutulungan ngayon di ba? Pero bakit kami tinitira ng mga trolls for having created a public account solely for distressed OFW who needed the help and why are tney still distressed.

I told you. Hindi ko tatantanan hanggat hindi ko makita ang motibo. At baka hindi ito alam ng Secretary mismo. Who knows. But there is something really, really off because they are so Kuwait!!!



Source: Atty. Bruce Rivera FB Page

San Beda Lawyer Blasts DFA, Explain the Importance of ATN & LAF to Help OFWs San Beda Lawyer Blasts DFA, Explain the Importance of ATN & LAF to Help OFWs Reviewed by Phil Newsome on June 30, 2018 Rating: 5
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