Department of OFW a Senate priority – Senate leaders

Published July 26, 2021, 8:37 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate leaders on Monday, July 26, promised to act on President Duterte’s call for the passage of a law that would create the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF).

(Jansen Romero/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

During his sixth and last SONA, Duterte reiterated his appeal to Congress to help establish the DMWOF, saying it overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) need it “suffering with so many inadequacies both in our government response, including monetary assistance.”

Reacting to this, Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee and Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and sponsor of the proposal in the upper chamber, said he will prioritize it.

“Nasa plenaryo na po itong panukala, at handa po tayong talakayin ito. Bilang certified urgent measure, itong panukala po ay nasa prayoridad ng Senado (The bill is pending in plenary, and we are prepared to take this up. Sonce it was certified as urgent, this bill is among the priorities of the Senate),” Villanueva said in a statement to reporters.

“We hope to finish the plenary deliberations in the coming months,” he added.

Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III also mentioned OFWs in his speech earlier, telling reporters that the Senate “is going to look at the DMWOF.”

Like Duterte, both senators believed that the creation of the department would respond to the needs of OFWs and Filipino migrants, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mas dama po natin ang kanilang mga suliranin ngayong pandemya (We feel their suffering more that we are in pandemic),” Villanueva said.

“Although hindi natin ini-endorse sapagkat gusto natin nandito ng mga Filipino sa kanilang mga pamilya, pero sa mga trabaho nakukuha nila abroad, malaking bagay na nakakatulong sila sa ekonomiya sa atin (we are not endorsing migration since want Filipinos to stay with their families here, with the jobs they get abroad, they are significantly helping our economy),” Sotto, for his part, said.

“Because of the pandemic, sila rin mismo, hirap at nagkakaroon ng problema sa mga polisiya, sa sweldo (they are challenged by problems in policies, in salaries)…It may be able to answer the problems that they are encountering,” he added.