The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has vowed to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to have their own respective exit plans in a bid to break the inter-generational cycle of being migrant workers in every family.
DMW Sec. Susan “Toots” Ople said this is what they hope to achieve with the infusion of both seasoned labor officials and new but idealistic officials following the appointment of key officials of the department.
“Mixing seasoned labor officials with new, hopeful and idealistic public servants creates a synergy for creativity without impeding continuity of best practices. It is important to have new blood in the bureaucracy working with mentors with institutional memory about overseas employment,” said Ople.
He cited the case of Vennie Legaspi whom she personally picked to be Assistant Secretary for Reintegration.
Ople said Legaspi himself serves as a role model for OFWs as his exit strategy from being an OFW paved the way to wisely use the money he earned as an OFW—from having his own resort in Northern Samar to having all his children finish college.
“Before an OFW leaves, he or she should have a clear exit strategy for the family. Reintegration means having a good plan and the capacity to execute that plan upon the OFW’s return,” said Ople.
“Reintegration is important because no Filipinos can work as OFWs forever. They grow old and they would retire. We want to break the inter-generational cycle of being an OFW. For example, the mother works as a househelp in Saudi and then her youngest daughter would later apply as househelp too in Saudi,” she added.
Aside from Legaspi, also appointed were Atty. Bernard P. Olalia and Atty. Hans Leo J. Cacdac, who served as administrators of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), respectively.
Olalia will assume his new post as Undersecretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services. He will remain as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the POEA until such time that the DMW is deemed fully constituted upon the approval of its 2023 budget. Olalia has been with DoLE and the POEA for more than five (5) years.
Cacdac, who has been in the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and OWWA for a total of 21 years, will serve as Undersecretary for Welfare and Foreign Employment. He will oversee the department’s Aksyon Fund, which will be used to help distressed OFWs in various countries.
“This mix of familiar faces and new names reflects our desire for continuity and innovation. The DMW’s ‘dream team’ is now in place, and we vow to serve our OFWs faithfully and with utmost professionalism,” Ople said.
Also appointed were Undersecretary Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones, a former DOLE Assistant Secretary during the Arroyo Administration and former head of the Tourism Promotion Board prior to her latest appointment, who is is coming to the DMW as Undersecretary for Finance and Internal Affairs; lawyer Patricia Yvonne M. Caunan who headed a highly successful law firm specializing in labor, civil, administrative, and criminal cases and an advocate for migrant worker’s rights giving free legal assistance and advice in various forums, who join the department as Undersecretary for Policy and International Cooperation; and, Arnell Ignacio served as OWWA Administrator.
Other key appointments include Jerome A. Alcantara, assistant secretary for Land-based Services and Concurrently Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary; Levinson C. Alcantara, assistant secretary for Pre-employment Services; Felicitas Q. Bay, assistant secretary for Migrant Workers Welfare Services; Francis Ron C. de Guzman, assistant secretary for Licensing and Adjudication Services; Jerome T. Pampolina, assistant secretary Sea-based Services; and, Violeta D. Illescas, assistant secretary for Internal Management and Administration.
Ople said all the new officials would take oath on Friday, Aug. 12, adding that they will formally assume their positions on Monday, Aug. 15.