President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he intends to create a separate Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) by December this year to address the persistent distress with illegal recruiters and other related concerns among OFWs.
According to Duterte, the creation of an OFW department will ensure strict regulation of Philippine-based recruitment agencies thereby easing the burden among OFWs who are made to pay horrendous charges or “red tape” for placement of job overseas. The president said he wants the framework for this proposal to be completed by the second week of August.
Duterte: Gov’t to Handle OFW Recruitment by December
Through the establishment of a unified agency to handle OFW matters, Duterte gave a warning to illegal and abusive recruiters to shape up as they will no longer operate without direct government supervision once the proposed department is created, as shared in a report by UNTV.
As an adjunct measure, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go filed Senate Bill 202 or the Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2019.
Go’s proposed bill seeks the creation of the said department to serve as the umbrella agency to address all concerns of Filipinos working overseas.
Moreover, the measure will also create an Overseas Filipinos Assistance Fund to provide financial aid to Filipino migrants in distress and provide livelihood loans for OFWs returning to the Philippines for good.
Once passed into law, the said department will take on the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Foreign Affairs-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA), the International Labor Affairs Bureau, and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
At present, Filipinos who aspire to work overseas need to go to various departments to secure necessary documents and present other concerns such as employment and technical education.
Senator Go believes the president will certify the measure as urgent to swiftly hurdle the Congress before the year ends.
“I think it’s possible and doable naman po by December. Maybe the president will certify it as urgent. At ang gusto na mangyari ng presidente [ay] maiwasan ang illegal recruitment or maging biktima ng illegal recruitment,” Go noted.
Based on the 2016 data shared by the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are around 2.2 million OFWs all over the world.
The creation of an OFW Department will not only streamline the processes required of OFWs to be authorized for work abroad, but it will also safeguard the system through which OFWs are trained and selected for employment abroad.
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