Villanueva: Proposed OFW dep't to focus on job creation, not labor export

Published August 5, 2021, 5:37 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva has assured that the proposed Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF) will push for job creation in the Philippines that going abroad to work “will just be a choice” to Filipinos.

Senator Joel Villanueva speaks during a Senate hearing on February 24, 2020. (Senate PRIB/Henzberg Austria)

“We aspire for the day when Filipinos will not leave the country because they need to, but because they want to,” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, said during the plenary debates on Senate Bill No. 2234 on Wednesday, August 4.

In the interpellation of Senator Francis Pangilinan on the proposed creation of the DMWOF, Villanueva, sponsor of the bill, pointed out that a provision in the bill states that 10 years after its establishment, an oversight committee of Congress shall review whether or not the department is still needed.

This gives lawmakers the discretion to dissolve the agency.

Villanueva said he agrees that Flipinos won’t leave their families and life behind if better opportunities were available for them in the country.

He cited high unemployment in the country during the pandemic as one of the driving factors for Filipinos to search for greener pastures abroad.

“Under those circumstances, you will really consider employment abroad. At the end of the day, it is best for our government to keep on creating jobs domestically,” Villanueva said.

According to Villanueva, a “key” provision in the bill is the planned reintegration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning to the country.

“Reintegration is a vital part of this measure,” said Villanueva.

In the meantime, the proposed DMWOF would serve as a one-stop shop for OFWs and migrant Filipinos for repatriation or emergency purposes.

He admitted, however, that there was “confusion, even in data for OFWs and overseas Filipinos.”

“There’s more confusion when it comes to repatriation or assisting Filipinos in times of emergency,” he added.

During the committee hearing on the bill, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that encouraging OFWs to return and stay in the Philippines still remains to be the Duterte administration’s priority.

President Duterte has certified the creation of DMWOF as urgent.