MANILA (UPDATE) - President Rodrigo Duterte promised Friday to establish a separate executive department to handle matters concerning Filipino migrant workers by December this year.
Duterte said he would rush the formation of the department, and vowed to place recruitment of migrant workers under government supervision.
“Apurahin ko 'yang Department of OFW (overseas Filipino workers),” he said in a speech at the Araw ng Pasasalamat for OFWs at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City.
(I will rush the creation of the Department of OFW.)
“Bawal na 'yang recruitment diyan sa labas (outside recruitment will no longer be allowed)... that kind of mechanism of recruiting Filipino workers abroad has been abused and abused and abused. Mga kababayan ko puro biktima, puro kawawa (my countrymen are the poor victims),” he said.
The President said a framework for the new government office would be available by the second week of August.
Duterte's former aide Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, who submitted a bill for the formation of the new department, said the President was expected to certify the proposed measure as urgent.
“Possible naman po na matapos ito agad sa December,” Go told reporters.
(It’s possible to establish it by December.)
Currently, separate government agencies handle OFW affairs, among them the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Department of Foreign Affairs' Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs.
Aside from the new department, Duterte said he would also build hospitals specifically for Filipino migrant workers.
Problems of migrant workers will also be addressed by police attachés, which could connect them to offices in the Philippines for help, Duterte said.
“So you will have a Department of OFW para sa inyo lang (just for you). ‘Yung hospital pati lagyan ko ng police attaché sa lahat ng binanggit ninyo na lugar,” he said.
(There will also be hospitals and police attachés in all places you raised.)
“The police attaché will connect you dito sa Pilipinas kung ano ang problema (here in the Philippines to address the problem). And they will be trained to help you in legal matters of how to do it in the meantime that you are not here to solve the problem,” he said.
Over 10 million Filipinos are abroad, and the remittances of those who work in other countries and territories are a lifeline to the Philippine economy.
Filipino migrants often grapple with labor issues and recruitment woes while some need legal assistance for alleged involvement in criminal activity.