DMW to map out strategies to improve labor attaches assistance to OFWs

Published December 3, 2022, 6:51 PM

by Jun Marcos Tadios

Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople called on its officials on Saturday, Dec. 3, to participate in the convening of the department’s first strategic planning workshop for labor attaches.

Dubbed “We A.C.T. As One”, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will be colliding labor attaches from 42 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) worldwide to partake in the convention from Dec. 12 to 15 in Tagaytay City.

“We have so much to do because our transition into a fully constituted department is a continuing effort in collaboration with various departments, notably DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs),” Ople said.

Currently, there are 42 POLO across the world, with their budget still being drawn from the DOLE.

Based on a joint circular signed by Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma Ople on July 7 this year, the administrative supervision over the POLOs has been placed under the stewardship of the DMW.

“A lot of our OFWs don’t even know that the DMW now exists, where and how we can be reached, as well as the services that we offer. The DMW needs to make sure that such basic information can be delivered most effectively and efficiently,” Ople uttered.

The DMW chief said the DMW will also have its “AKSYON Fund” in 2023 to hire lawyers and render psychosocial and other forms of humanitarian assistance to assist the distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Ople explained that the AKSYON Fund will be catering under the welfare and foreign employment cluster to be led by Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac. The guidelines for the AKSYON Fund aimed to be developed with inputs from various stakeholders.

“We expect a majority of our labor attaches to fly in and participate in this strategic planning conference, which will also feature resource persons on global security concerns, digitalization efforts, and maritime affairs,” Ople said.

Meanwhile, DMW Undersecretary Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said the “A.C.T.” in the workshop title refers to “Alignment, Connection and Transition to Transformation”.

“The workshop will lead to the formulation of the DMW’s strategy map with very clear indicators for performance, professionalism, and policy implementation,” said Allones.

The DMW was created by law on December 27, 2021, and will have its 2023 budget approved once President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. signs the General Appropriations Act of 2023 into law.

Ople said the signing of the GAA will signal the full constitution of the new department, which would lead to the transformation of the current Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) into Migrant Workers’ Offices (MWOs).

Recently, the Senate approved a budget of P16.323 Billion for DMW on Nov. 11.

As MWOs, the DMW’s foreign posts are mandated by law to assist distressed OFWs not only in labor-related disputes but also when criminal cases are involved.

“The legal assistance aspect of the DFA’s work will now be transferred to the DMW once the budget is approved and at the onset of 2023,” Ople stated.

She said the DMW is in discussions with the DFA on how to carry out the transition.

“Our attaches abroad would also require some training on how to render legal assistance in partnership with law enforcement agencies in countries with a high concentration of OFWs,” Ople stressed.

Ople is also eager to beef up the need for a massive information and dissemination campaign on the various programs and services to introduce the newly-formed DMW: “A lot of our OFWs don’t even know that the DMW now exists, where and how can we be reached, as well as the services that we offer.”