MANILA — Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) secretary Toots Ople on Wednesday said it was "unjust" to stop medical frontliners from seeking employment abroad and that government should address local working conditions.
“Hindi po maiiwasan na aalis at aalis din sila (they cannot avoid leaving). It’s also unjust to make them stay here. They’ve been waiting for the circumstances to change in the domestic workforce," Ople said during the DMW’s budget presentation before the Senate finance sub-committee.
"We also need to look at the conditions here. It’s very attractive to see the condition elsewhere. We need to address this,” she added.
Ople mentioned that the DMW is looking at introducing a scholarship program for healthcare workers who will serve in the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Hospital.
The agency is seeking P500 million to sustain the operations of the hospital.
“Kailangan namin ng dagdag sa Capital Outlay kasi may regional offices, may personnel, pero wala kaming Capital Outlay. Yun sanang OFW hospital, kailangan din sana ng pang-surveillance ng illegal recruiters at human traffickers," Ople lamented.
(We need additional capital outley because there are regional offices, personnel. The OFW hospital is also needed for surveillance on illegal recruiters and human traffickers.)
To fund the scholarship program, the DMW plans to solicit donations from other countries which are actively recruiting Filipino health workers.
The DMW and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will iron out their planned scholarship program for healthcare workers in a meeting on Monday, Ople said.
The President also directed authorities to set up “OFW wings” in hospitals, according to Ople.
“Baka OFW wings in selective hospitals. Siguro may record saan ang maraming OFW concentration. Explore the possibility of OFW wings in certain regional hospital kung sana may mataas na concentration of OFWs,” Sen. JV Ejercito, chairman of the panel, suggested.
(Perhaps there will be OFW winds in select hospitals, where perhaps there is a high OFW concentration. We will explore the possibility of OFW wings in certain regional hospitals where there are many OFWs.)
The Department of Budget and Management has allotted a P15.210-billion budget for the DMW for next year, which is P3.69 billion lower than their originally-requested funds.
The budget needs to be raised to ensure steady funding for DMW's 16 regional offices, which still need “physical offices” and service vehicles.
“Ngayon wala kaming sasakyan sa DMW, nagka-car pool lang po kami,” DMW undersecretary for Finance Vellasco-Allones told the committee.
(We have no vehicle at the DMW, we only go on carpool.)
Sen. Risa Hontiveros batted for additional funds for the DMW.
"Pagtulung-tulungan po nating lahat itong unang budget ng ating bagong departamento para sa ating mga kababayang OFWs,” Hontiveros said.
(Let us work together for the first budget of our new department for our OFWs.)