Palace letter addresses Pichay as OWWA chief

MANILA, Philippines – A memorandum from Malacaňang Palace addressing losing senatorial candidate Prospero Pichay as administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has caused an aspirant for the post and his campaigners to pull out of the race in dismay.

The memorandum bearing the signature of Assistant Secretary Ma. Lourdes P. Varona, head of Malacaňang’s correspondence office, referred to “Administrator Pichay” an e-mail by a Filipino community leader in Riyadh requesting review of the “pending and aging cases of OFWs filed in Philippine embassies, consulates and labor offices in the Middle Eastern region.

Rashid Fabricante’s e-mail was dated August 6 and Varona’s memorandum was dated Aug. 7 and released on Aug. 11. A digital copy of the memorandum was circulated via e-mails.

Memo address to Mr. Pichay

Memo address to Mr. Pichay

 A check with Malacaňang’s Correspondence Office on Friday revealed that the letter was genuine but there was nothing definite about Pichay’s appointment.

Liam Tinio, presidential staff officer of the correspondence office, said that at the time the memorandum was written, “it was announced that Pichay would be taking over OWWA.”

Tinio did not elaborate on who made the announcement but he said he called OWWA office and was told that the officer-in-charge was still Albert Valenciano.

“This can be considered as a wrong address,” Tinio said.

GMANews.TV also checked with the OWWA and learned that Valenciano was in charge. Calls to the administrator’ s office were not answered.

The top OWWA post was vacated with the recent permanent designation of Marianito Roque as labor secretary.

Pichay’s name as Roque’s replacement cropped up last month as President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo started appointing her losing senatorial candidates in the 2007 elections to key posts in government.

Among the senatorial election losers who were given key posts were Mike Defensor as head of a task force at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). He later relinquished the post alleged amid infighting with other officials sidelined by his appointment.

Another loser was Ralph Recto, who was named socio-economic planning secretary and director general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Because of the Palace memorandum to “Administrator Pichay,” a Riyadh-based medical doctor being endorsed by various OFW groups withdrew his nomination to the top OWWA post.

“Thank you for all the support. I cannot forget your efforts although everybody knows what would be the outcome. As I told you from the beginning we have a very slim chance of being appointed,” said a part of Dr. Mohamad Carlito Astillero’s e-mail to his supporters.

Francis Oca of the OFW Congress in Riyadh suspected that the Palace memorandum “smells of a ploy orchestrated by some hidden hand to divide the OFW community supporting the nomination of Dr. Astillero.”

Oca noted that the date of the memo was August 6, the time the supposed screening committee headed by former Labor Secretary Pat Sto. Tomas was just looking into the “qualifications” of the nominees.

“We feel something is wrong with this whole scenario, including the sudden launching of an Online Petition in Kuwait supporting the nomination of Angelo Jimenez,” he said, referring to OWWA’s deputy administrator whose online nomination was reportedly endorsed by many placement agencies. – GMANews.TV


2 thoughts on “Palace letter addresses Pichay as OWWA chief

  1. OFW still in contention for top OWWA post
    08/30/2008 | 03:04 PM

    MANILA, Philippines – A group of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Saudi Arabia have said their nominee for the top post of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is still in the running.

    “Allow us to clarify that Dr. Carlito Astillero has not withdrawn his nomination,” Manuel Amora, secretary-general of the OFW Congress in Riyadh, said in an e-mail GMANews.TV.

    Amora said Astillero’s letter to his campaigners and supporters, which was the basis of a news report that he has withdrawn from the race, was only meant to thank everyone for their support.

    Astillero’s e-mail read: “Thank you for all the support. I cannot forget your efforts although everybody knows what would be the outcome. As I told you from the beginning we have a very slim chance of being appointed.”

    Astillero wrote the letter to his campaigners as speculation spread that former Surigao del Sur congressman Prospero Pichay Jr, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, was already appointed OWWA administrator.

    The rumored appointment was caused by a faulty memorandum issued by Malacañang Palace addressing Pichay as OWWA administrator. The correspondence office of the President dismissed the matter as a “wrong address.”

    Last week, the OWWA Search Committee headed by former Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas was reported to have excluded Pichay from its shortlist of seven names, after which the Palace announced that Pichay was being appointed chairman of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA).

    Reports said that Pichay really wanted the OWWA position but was forced to back down because of many objections to his appointment.

    Meanwhile, Filipino workers in Riyadh are hopeful that the President will heed their calls of appointing somebody from the migrant workers’ circle to the controversial post.

    “In the meantime, we the OFW community leaders in KSA and around the globe are determined to continue our fight that a true bloodied OFW will be given a hand in the affairs of OWWA,” said Amora.

    It was not known if Astillero is among the seven names in the OWWA short list. – GMANews.TV

  2. Dear Bong and Francis,

    I have written a letter to yesterday informing them that I am not resigning nor withdrawing from the nomination as OWWA Administrator. Please, check if it is printed today in the same forum above.


    First of all, please, allow me to clarify my statements made last August 12,2008 sent to you and my family and on the same date sent to all those who nominated and supported me as OWWA Administrator. My statement was made as an offshot of the letter circulated through E-Mails reportedly coming from Malacanang Palace.
    In that statement I did not resign nor withdraw my nomination but merely comforted everybody and thank everyone for their supports and efforts to send someone to OWWA coming from our ranks. Although as I said our chance is slim the hope is still there until Her Excellency, the President, will announce officially her choice to manage and operate our very own OWWA.

    Tuloy ang laban as you said and as many others did as shown in their on-line continuing signature campaign. This time let me say, as an edition of my first statement,”if it is God’s will for me to serve OFWs and OFs and the homeland through OWWA then be it we are ready with all your supports.”


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