Senate must pass DOFIL ASAP — Bong Go

Published May 17, 2021, 10:06 AM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has renewed his appeal to fellow senators to support the proposed creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFIL) as Congress resumes session today, Monday, May 17.

Go had filed Senate Bill No. 1949 which seeks to consolidate all government agencies and offices that deal with overseas Filipinos’ concerns in one department in a bid to improve the bureaucracy and further protect their welfare wherever they are in the world.

According to Go, these are primordial concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“Ako po ay nakikiusap din po sa mga kasamahan ko sa Senado. Pasado naman ito sa (I’m appealing to my colleagues in the Senate. This has already passed in the) Lower House,” Go said in a radio interview.

“Sa Senado, nakatatlong hearings na tayo at agreeable naman ang Executive, payag na sila sa version na ito (In the Senate, we have already held three hearings and the Executive branch is already agreeable to this version),” he pointed out.

Though President Duterte has certified the bill as urgent, some senators have expressed concern over the proposed creation of DOFIL, citing the possible administrative and budgetary constraints for the government.

During the Senate Committee on Labor and Employment’s last hearing, Senator Imelda “Imee” Marcos questioned why the government intended to keep the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) as independent offices that would be attached to the DOFIL.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon also questioned the purpose of the DOFIL noting that whoever would be appointed DOFIL Secretary cannot direct the OWWA and POEA because they would still function as independent agencies.

Sen. Nancy Binay also pointed out that the creation of the DOFil could jeopardize the assistance to nationals (ATN) fund currently under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), saying that once the DOFil is created, only a partial amount of these fund would be transferred to the proposed agency.

But Go insisted it is important to streamline the current processes concerning OFWs, and other overseas Filipinos, especially amid the ongoing global health crisis.

“Importante mabigyan na natin sila ng departamento. Isipin mo, ten million OFWs ang nasa ibang bansa. Ibig sabihin, 10% ng population ‘yan tapos wala silang departamento, (It’s important to give them a separate department, because we have 10 million OFWs in other countries. That means 10 percent of the population and yet they do not have a department),” he explained.

“Ako naman po ay makikiusap sa mga kasamahan ko sa Senado na suportahan naman po dahil priority po ito ng mahal na Pangulo, priority po ng mga kababayan natin sa ibang bansa at ang ating mga OFW na nagsasakripisyo (I am appealing to our colleagues in the Senate to support the bill because this is a priority of our President, a priority of our fellowmen in other countries and the OFWs who continue to make sacrifices),” he reiterated.