Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go backs the proposed P21-billion budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs for next year as he commended their efforts in the country’s fight against the COV1D-19 pandemic.
During a public hearing conducted by a Senate Committee on Finance subcommittee, Go said that the DFA has been doing its best especially during the pandemic by repatriating affected overseas Filipinos and responding to their calls for help.
“We are very much aware that the DFA has been hard at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ako po mismo, palagi ako nang-iistorbo sa inyong opisina pag marami pong humihingi ng tulong na kababayan natin, especially mga OFWs (I myself have knocked on your doors to ask help for our countrymen seeking assistance),” Go said.
“As of early this month, the DFA has repatriated a total of 204,481 overseas Filipinos, both sea-based and land-based, from around the globe. I laud the efforts taken by the department in bringing our heroes home,” Go added.
Some 47,000 more are still awaiting repatriation back to the Philippines.
While the efforts of the DFA and other agencies, including the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) and its attached agencies, are well recognized, Go emphasized, adding that there is always room for improvements.
“Alam ko pong ginagawa ninyo ang lahat, sa abot ng inyong makakaya para sumaklolo sa mga Pilipino na apektado ng krisis sa iba’t ibang parte ng mundo. Kasama ang DoLE, OWWA, POEA at iba pang mga ahensya – malaki po ang sakripisyo ninyo para gampanan ang inyong mga mandato sa mga Pilipinong kapatid (I know what you have been doing to the best of our abilities to help our countrymen affected by the crisis in other parts of the globe. Including the DoLE, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and other agencies, your sacrifices in implementing your mandate to help your countrymen are well appreciated),” Go said.
“However, notwithstanding all these praiseworthy undertakings by the DFA, particularly the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Worker Affairs, the cracks in our system have been brought to light.
“There have been perennial gaps in our system that have been highlighted further in this pandemic, particularly when it comes to inter-agency coordination and response to concerns of overseas Filipinos in distress,” he added.
Problems in the agencies responsible for overseeing the welfare of the OFWs, Go said, prompted him to file Senate Bill 1835 which seeks to create the Department of Overseas Filipinos.
Go believes that by putting all overseas Filipinos concerns in just one department, it would be easier for them to seek assistance and services for all their needs.