House bill seeks creation of separate department for OFWs
In response to President Rodrigo Duterte's promise during the campaign period, a party-list lawmaker filed a bill seeking to create a separate government department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The proposed agency, to be called Department of Migration and Development (DMD), will ensure a "unified, fast, and coherent approach in extending government services to Filipinos overseas and their families at home," said ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. Aniceto Bertiz III.
"This bill seeks to build on the President's campaign promise to our OFWs for a separate department," Bertiz said in a statement Monday.
Bertiz's House Bill No. 192 serves as the counterpart measure of the Senate bill filed by Senator Cynthia Villar, which also proposes the creation of a separate department for OFWs.
Duterte, during the campaign period, had vowed to create a full-pledged department that would streamline and simplify the bureaucratic requirements for Filipino workers aspiring to work or already working abroad.
Bertiz, a neophyte lawmaker who himself is a former OFW, said at the present set-up, an aspiring OFW needs to go through at least seven agencies from the time he files his application to the actual day of his departure. He said this proves to be too costly for the OFW.
"The responsibility for the well-being of our OFWs cuts across several agencies and departments, leading to finger-pointing in times of crisis, and worse, inaction when the life of an overseas worker hangs in the balance," he said.
Bertiz said his bill also seeks to strengthen the reintegration program for OFWs.
Under HB 192, the proposed DMD will plan, develop, and manage the national migration and development agenda in consultation with various stakeholders, to promote the protection, safety, development and support of and for OFWs and their families.
It also seeks to provide a comprehensive and responsive social service protection program, including the strengthening of the on-site welfare and legal services in the Philippine Missions abroad.
Likewise, the DMD also aims to strengthen the repatriation and reintegration services for migrant Filipinos to facilitate their re-entry into their respective communities, intensify the prevention of human trafficking and the prosecution of illegal recruitment, among others. —KBK, GMA News