Proposed OFW dept to cover all needs of migrant workers: DOLE
By Ferdinand Patinio
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – An official of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said the creation of the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) would be able to cover all the needs of Filipinos working abroad.
“But this time under one roof, you will see a Department that will protect not only the rights but especially, during pre-employment. We think this is the most important, the pre-employment situation, both in terms of regulation, in terms of welfare and in terms of really protecting them and giving all the benefits and the information they need for them to be successful Filipino citizens abroad,” Labor Undersecretary Joji Aragon said in a Laging Handa briefing.
Aragon, however, said this does not mean promoting overseas employment for Filipinos as a national policy.
“But can you imagine, bundling all of the services, programs, and policies of the government, which is kind of scattered, (is important),” she added.
She also reported that DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello has informed the senators that he fully supports the creation of the new department.
“Secretary Bello last night sent another letter to the Senate, saying that he supports 100 percent the creation of Department of OFW, on whatever version they have. Let’s remember, the boxing is over, finally approved at the Lower House. In the Senate, it’s on the committee level and we can be sure, we were informed, it might be certified as urgent this 18th Congress,” Aragon said. “We believe that the creation of the Department of OFW, authored by Senator Bong Go and supported by practically all, will strengthen not only sea-based but also land-based.”
Aragon also reiterated the request of Bello for the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to be part of the new Department.
“We hope that the POEA’s regulatory powers and quasi-judicial functions will be preserved and the OWWA who is in charge of the welfare side will likewise be preserved. We also have labor attachés, or POLOs (Philippine Overseas Labor Offices), in-charge on our half way homes, the so-called centers will be presented…” she added.
Aragon is hoping that the new Department will be formed this year or early next year.
In a public address on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte renewed his call for the passage of a law creating a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, saying the welfare of OFWs should be handled by a separate department other than DOLE.
He also promised the OFWs that there will be a more thorough review of policies for the protection of their rights. (PNA)