MANILA — Functions of various executive offices tasked to handle concerns of Filipino migrant workers will be streamlined and consolidated under the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos, Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go said Saturday.
Under Go's Senate Bill No. 202, the job of several agencies for matters pertaining to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be transferred to the proposed department.
These agencies are: the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA), Commission on Filipino Overseas, and International Labor Affairs Bureau.
President Rodrigo Duterte had announced Friday that the department would be created by December. Go said the chief executive was expected to certify the bill as urgent.
"This legislative measure proposes the establishment of a Department of Overseas Filipinos to serve as the umbrella agency to specifically address all the issues and concerns of Filipinos abroad and their families," Go said in a statement Saturday.
POEA is the main agency assigned to monitor and supervise recruitment agencies in the Philippines, while OWWA is an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment formed to promote the welfare of OFWs.
The creation of the department will prevent the intervention of "exploitative illegal recruiters" that victimize OFWs, Go said.
"Masakit makitang iniiwan ng mga kababayan natin ang mga pamilya at mahal nila sa buhay upang makapagtrabaho lamang sa mga malalayong lugar. Suklian natin ang kanilang sakripisyo ng mas maayos na serbisyo para sa kanila at kanilang mga pamilya" Go said.
(It hurts to see our fellow Filipinos leave behind their families and loved ones just so they can work abroad. This is a way for us to give back and make their sacrifices worthwhile.)
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.