Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday urged President Duterte to end the confusion triggered by the appointment of his former adviser, Abdullah Mama-o, as secretary of the yet-to-be-constituted Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
He asserted that Mama-o’s appointment was “illegal” since the DMW was yet to be constituted, and the staffing pattern including the secretary remained to be created.
He added the appointment of Mama-o was merely meant to make him a member of the transition committee.
“It is the height of absurdity and clearly against legislative intent to allow the new appointee to determine policies without an actual department. The intention was to allow for a smooth transition and turnover and this is the exact opposite of that,” Drilon said.
He reiterated his earlier warning to Mama-o that he could be held liable for usurpation of authority if he continued to exercise the functions of the yet-to-be-constituted department.
“I urge the President to intervene for the sake of the labor sector and migrant workers that we seek to protect with the passage of the Republic Act 11641. Mama-o’s actions are sowing confusion,” Drilon said.
“Only the President has the authority to do so under the Constitution because he has control over the executive and all its departments,” Drilon added.
The former labor secretary sided with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who immediately countered the order issued by Mama-o that lifted the ban on the deployment of newly-hired Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia.
Drilon pointed out that the jurisdiction still remained with Bello because the DMW does not exist yet.
“We have a transitory provision in the law that Mama-o should recognize and respect,” Drilon stressed.
He said it was clear in Section 23 of RA 11641 that the department could not be constituted without an appropriation in the 2023 General Appropriations Act, effective implementing rules and regulations, and a staffing pattern.
Drilon called the appointment of Mama-o was the root cause of all the confusion and policy disputes that sent shock waves to the labor and migrant workers industry.
“It is about time that the President intervenes and resolves the conflict created by the appointment of Mama-o. To allow this situation to continue is detrimental to the interest of the labor sector and the OFWs,” he said.