Press Release
October 9, 2020

Bong Go supports DFA proposed 2021 budget; renews call for the creation of DOOF to improve government response to needs of overseas Filipinos

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has expressed his support for the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs as he commended their efforts in the country's fight against the pandemic.

During a public hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Finance on Friday, October 8, Go said that the DFA has been doing its best especially during the pandemic by repatriating affected overseas Filipinos and responding to their calls for help.

"We are very much aware that the DFA has been hard at work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ako po mismo, palagi ako nang-iistorbo sa inyong opisina pag marami pong humihingi ng tulong na kababayan natin, especially mga OFWs," Go said.

"As of early this month, the DFA has repatriated a total of 204,481 overseas Filipinos, both sea-based and land-based, from around the globe. I laud the efforts taken by the department in bringing our heroes home," Go added.

While the efforts of the DFA and other agencies, including the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies, are well recognized, Go emphasized that there is always room for improvements.

"Alam ko pong ginagawa ninyo ang lahat, sa abot ng inyong makakaya para sumaklolo sa mga Pilipino na apektado ng krisis sa iba't ibang parte ng mundo. Kasama ang DOLE, OWWA, POEA at iba pang mga ahensya -- malaki po ang sakripisyo ninyo para gampanan ang inyong mga mandato sa mga Pilipinong kapatid," Go said.

Go noted that "the cracks" in the system have been brought to light amid COVID-19 crisis.

"However, notwithstanding all these praiseworthy undertakings by the DFA, particularly the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Worker Affairs, the cracks in our system have been brought to light.

"There have been perennial gaps in our system that have been highlighted further in this pandemic, particularly when it comes to inter-agency coordination and response to concerns of overseas Filipinos in distress," he added.

Citing the problems in the agencies responsible for overseeing the welfare of the OFWs, Go said that it prompted him to file Senate Bill No. 1835, which seeks to create the DOOF.

Go believes that by putting all overseas Filipinos concerns in just one department, it will be easier for them to seek assistance and services for all their needs. He added that the OFWs would no longer resort to asking for help through radio stations or even on social media once the DOOF is created.

"Hindi na po sila mananawagan sa radio, sa Facebook, kahit saan lang po sila humihingi ng saklolo," he said.

While he pushed for the creation of the DOOF, Go clarified that it will not adversely affect the mandate and the resources of the DFA as he emphasized that the proposed DOOF only seeks to streamline the process in taking care of the OFWs.

"Ang gusto naman natin ay gawing mas streamlined and responsive ang gobyerno sa pangangailangan ng mga tao -- without taking anything away from the hardworking men and women of existing agencies, such as the DFA.

The Senator also commended the department for maintaining our diplomatic ties with all nations and safeguarding the independent foreign policy that the President has directed.

"Ipagpatuloy po sana natin ang pagkakaibigan natin sa lahat ng bansa," he said.

"I fully support the budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs and continue to applaud all your initiatives during this very difficult time for the country and for the world," he ended.

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