Press Release
February 5, 2021

Creation of DOFil will help protect Filipinos abroad, says Bong Go as he demanded justice for murdered OFW in Abu Dhabi and offered help to the family

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go expressed that his proposed measure creating the Department of Overseas Filipinos will be acted upon by the Senate soon to provide better services, and further protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos abroad.

"I'm not losing hope," Go said in an interview done after he provided assistance to Batasan TODA Members in Quezon City on Wednesday, February 3.

The Senator explained that the Senate Bill No. 1949, otherwise known as the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) Act of 2020, has been referred back to the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development after the Senate Committee on Rules gave the green light for committee deliberations.

"Ni-refer na po pabalik sa Committee on Labor at uumpisahan na po ang pagdinig dito," he said.

The Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development has scheduled a hearing on the proposed measure on February 15. Go filed the bill in early December and has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte. It has also been identified as one of the top twenty priority legislations by both houses of Congress this year.

The proposed creation of DOFil will be initially comprised of the Office of the Secretary and four Offices of the Undersecretaries for Administration and Finance; Foreign Employment; Assistance to Overseas Filipinos in Distress; and Policy and International Cooperation and Special Overseas Filipino Concerns.

The department shall also subsume the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Social Welfare Attaches Office under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, International Labor Affairs Bureau under the Department of Labor and Employment, and Commission on Overseas Filipinos. Additionally, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will serve as attached agencies of DOFil.

The bill also aims to implement a one country-team approach of government offices and personnel posted abroad. This means that it will require all officials in Philippine diplomatic posts to act together as one team, per country of assignment, in protecting the rights and advancing the welfare of Filipino migrant workers there, with guidance from the DFA and the Philippine Foreign Service Posts.

As principal author of the bill, Go emphasized that the establishment of the DOFil is also aligned with the objectives of rightsizing the bureaucracy by streamlining and rationalizing the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration into one department.

"Mayroon tayong ten million Filipinos abroad. Sinasabi nating heroes sila kaya bigyan natin sila ng importansya, bigyan natin sila ng departamento na para sa kanila," he highlighted.

SBN 1949 is the third iteration of a measure filed by Go in 2019. The latest version of the bill represents the unified position of the entire Executive branch of the government. It will include agencies which will be affected by the reorganization.

Meanwhile, Go has also expressed concern on the recently reported death of an overseas Filipino worker, reported missing since March 6, 6, 2020, and whose remains were recently found in the hotel in Abu Dhabi where she was working as receptionist.

Mary Anne Daynolo's remains arrived on January 30 and were immediately autopsied by the National Bureau of Investigation.

"Ako po, bilang isang mambabatas at malapit kay Pangulong Duterte, sisiguraduhin natin na mabibigyan ng hustiya ang pagkamatay ni Mary Anne," Go said.

The Senator added that the suspect must answer to the crime he committed. According to news, the suspect is a Ugandan national identified only as "Paul", who admitted to the crime and led the investigators to the place where Daynolo was buried.

"Ako naman po ay handang tumulong sa kanyang pamilya na naiwan niya rito. Handa po akong tumulong sa kanya at sisiguraduhin natin na mabigyan siya ng hustisya kaya isinusulong ko ang DOFil bill," Go said.

"Hindi po ako titigil para po meron na tayong departamento na Cabinet secretary-level na nakatutok sa mga OFWs na minsan ay inaapi. Para po ito sa tinatawag nating mga modern day heroes," he added.

As of this time, the Office of the President, together with the DSWD, OWWA, and the Office of Senator Bong Go have already reached out to the family of Mary Anne Daynolo to provide assistance. Through her mother, the government provided financial, legal and memorial service assistance as well as other forms of aid for the family's immediate needs.

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