Following numerous reports of complaints from overseas Filipino workers over the government’s delayed and inadequate support, Senator Cynthia VIllar over the weekend called for the creation of a separate department that will ensure the welfare of more than 12-million Filipinos abroad.
Senator Christopher Go said the proposed Department of OFW will focus on the needs and concerns of Filipino migrant workers.
Go said functions of government agencies must be streamlined to provide fast, accessible and quality services to OFWs and to aid their families here in the Philippines.
Villar said despite the presence of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, many OFWs still feel they are neglected by the government.
Villar’s Senate Bill 141 seeks the creation of the Department of Migration and Development to address the problem of redundant and difficult procedures and unnecessary fees government agencies impose on OFWs.
“It is appropriate to create a government agency in the executive department which shall have the exclusive function of protecting and enforcing the welfare and rights of Filipinos overseas,” she said.
“We need an empowered agency that will adequately support and give assistance to them,” added Villar, a known advocate of migrant Filipino workers.
The proposed department will also monitor foreign developments to ensure the most reasonable working conditions for OFWs as well as a proactive approach in providing assistance to them, especially in times of war and civil unrest, whether potential or apparent.
Villar’s bill also seeks to create the P1-billion Special Assistance Revolving Fund for Filipino Migrants, including both documented and undocumented.
Citing Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas records in 2018, the Nacionalista Party senator said OFWs’ remittances, which amount to $28.94 billion sent through formal channels and $32.21 billion through personal remittances, are considered significant contributors to the country’s gross domestic product that keep the economy buoyant.