Senators to discuss gov’t right-sizing, proposed OFW dept. bill

Published December 16, 2020, 2:32 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

President Duterte has certified as urgent a Senate bill creating a department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).


Senate President Vicente Sotto confirmed Wednesday that Duterte has called for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 1949, filed by Sen. Christopher Go, which proposes the creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos. The House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a similar bill last March 11.

The President’s certification was issued Tuesday, December 15.

Sotto, however, senators would first have to discuss how to go about the proposed creation of the OFW department since they earlier agreed to prioritize the rightsizing of the government.

He said they might tackle the proposal in January as it is “impossible” to pass the bill on final reading on their last session day, December 16. Congress is set to adjourn on December 19.

The Senate chief earlier said that he “would personally rather prioritize rightsizing first before we even look into the possibility of new offices, new agencies, or new department.” He filed Senate Bill No. 244 seeking to address the issue of the government’s bloated bureaucracy.

For this reason, members of the Senate labor committee, chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva, decided last December 7 to defer discussions on the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos pending the hearing on Sotto’s bill.

Bills on the creation of the OFW department were later referred to Committee on Rules.

Aside from Go’s bill, separate bills were also filed by Villanueva and Sen. Francis Tolentino. The committee would have to consolidate all similar bills before it is sponsored for plenary approval.

To recall, Sotto said in one of their plenary sessions last week that according to the Senate’s rules, the President must issue a separate certification for substitute bills.