With over 2 million overseas Filipinos working all over the world and an ever-growing number of people joining the workforce, the government deemed it best to create a new department that will handle all the concerns of Filipino migrant workers, absorbing the functions of existing offices. It will be called the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).
Under Senate Bill No. 202 filed by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, the following government agencies will be transferred into this new office to oversee any and all matters pertaining to overseas workers:
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
- Department of Foreign Affairs – Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA)
- Commission on Filipino Overseas, and International Labor Affairs Bureau
The creation of this department, however, will not just serve as an umbrella agency for all of these other offices.
According to President Rodrigo Duterte, the passage of this proposed bill and the creation of the new department includes banning the recruitment of OFWs abroad as this is one reason for the exploitation and abuse among OFWs. This way, recruitment will be done under the supervision of the government and won’t have to cost so much, too.
It was also emphasized that with this new department, OFWs wouldn’t have to go to so many different government agencies to secure documents or address their concerns. Go said it is important that they streamline these services into one agency to make it easier for OFWs.
The bill will also entail the creation of an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund that will provide financial support to OFWs who are in distress. This would include repatriation and provisions for life-saving funds in cases of emergencies. This will also provide training and livelihood loans for OFWs that are returning to the Philippines for good.
Moreover, “OFW Malasakit Centers” will be set up all over the country to ensure the efficient provision of services to OFWs along with their families. These services include acquisition of government permits, validation of overseas job offers, and complaint desks.
President Duterte is pushing for the speedy passage of this bill and of the creation of this OFW department, targeting it to be accomplished by December of this year.
While it hasn’t been explained in detail as to how this new OFW department will affect the concerned government agencies and current Filipino migrant workers, it is expected that this will be an efficient and effective change that will provide better services for the OFWs across the world.