The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has transferred to the newly created Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) the task of providing assistance to nationals (ATN), along with the legal assistance funds appropriated for the purpose.
The two agencies forged Joint Circular No. 1, signed by DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo and DMW Secretary Susan Ople, calling for the creation of a technical working group (TWG) to formulate the guidelines for the seamless transfer of the ATN system.
The handover of the ATN to the DMW was in consonance Republic Act 11641 enacted by then President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2021, creating and mandating the DMW to oversee all policies protecting the welfare of Filipinos working abroad.
The TWG was to be co-chaired by the DMW Undersecretary for Foreign Employment and Welfare Services and the DFA Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs, with three designated officials each from the DMW and the DFA as members.
Aside from formulating policies, the TWG is also tasked to ensure the smooth and efficient transition in managing services and assistance to OFWs in all Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) which is currently under the DFA.
The joint circular provides that during the transition period, the DFA shall continue to manage the provision of the ATN and other services to OFWs in embassies and consulates abroad until March 31, 2023, when the full turnover is expected to have been completed.
During the period, the DFA will retain and disburse ATN and legal assistance funds to assist OFWs, until such time that the concerned Migrant Workers Office (MWO) has been fully equipped with the operational and financial requirements to provide such services to the OFWs.”
Meanwhile, the DFA will also provide training and mentoring to DMW-MWO personnel to enhance their competence in managing and handling ATN concerns relating to OFWs during the transition period.
All ATN cases will also be turned over by the DFA to the DMW, complete with data and inventory of such cases for easier facilitation.