Overseas Filipino groups question proposed Department for OFWs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2021 02:09 PM

Overseas Filipino groups question proposed Department for OFWs 1
Arriving OFWs at the NAIA Terminal 1 undergo health protocols and fill out documents before getting clearance from the Philippine Red Cross to get swab tests on October 28, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News file photo

MANILA - Several organizations of Filipinos working in Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong questioned the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos or DOFIL saying such an agency runs counter to President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign promise. 

In a forum on Monday, overseas Filipino workers' groups said such a department would institutionalize the export of Filipino workers and is the opposite of Duterte’s campaign promise to make migration an option and not a necessity. 

Last December, Duterte certified as urgent proposals to create DOFIL. The stated goal of the proposal is to streamline the processing of OFW requirements, and to protect and promote the rights of migrant Filipino workers abroad. 

Senator Joel Villanueva says DOFIL would tackle all of the needs of OFWs, from training and recruitment, to the reintegration of retiring OFs. 

Jasmin Ruas, director of the Domestic Caretaker Union-Taiwan, however, said the proposal doesn't make sense. 

“Hindi ko sinusuportahan, kasi gusto kong umuwi, at gusto kong umuwi na may trabaho akong makukuha sa Pilipinas,” Ruas said.

(I don't support it because I want to go home, and when I go back home I want to be assured of a job in the Philippines.) 

Ruas said the government should focus on helping the unemployed and underemployed in the country instead. She added that for her group, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are enough. 

Edwin Dela Cruz, president of the International Seafarers Action Center, and Representative of the Global Council for Migrante International, said the creation of DOFIL "institutionalizes" the export of labor. He added that the DOFIL will require additional funds and may also displace government workers.

“Makasisira po yan ng kabuhayan ng hindi lang ng mga OFW pati mga tao sa gobyerno," dela Cruz said.

(That will ruin the livelihood of not just OFWs but government workers as well.) 

Joshua Mata, secretary general of Sentro ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa also said that it wasn't clear what problems DOFIL is supposed to address. 

The Senate will continue debates on the proposed department this week.

- Report from Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

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