Press Release
May 16, 2021

Bong Go urges fellow lawmakers to support passage of DOFil as Senate resumes session

Measures that can improve the bureaucracy and further protect the welfare of Filipinos wherever they are in the world are primordial concerns amid the ongoing pandemic. The government must adapt to the changing times in order to become more efficient and responsive to the needs of Filipinos.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go emphasized this as he renewed his appeal to fellow lawmakers to support the passage of his proposed Senate Bill No. 1949, otherwise known as the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) Act of 2020, which seeks to safeguard the rights and promote the welfare and interests of overseas Filipinos.

"Ako po ay nakikiusap din po sa mga kasamahan ko sa Senado. Pasado naman ito sa Lower House. Sa Senado, nakatatlong hearings na tayo at agreeable naman ang Executive, payag na sila sa version na ito," said Go in a radio interview on Saturday, May 15.

"'Wag natin ipagkait sa mga kababayan natin ang departamentong ito. Mahigit 10 million ang mga kababayan natin sa kabilang ibayo. Mahigit 500,000 OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) natin ang umuwi at nawalan ng trabaho. Tinatawag natin silang modern-day heroes. Bigyan natin sila ng departamentong nakatutok sa kanila," Go urged.

SBN 1949 is the third version of a measure Go first filed in July of 2019. The bill creating DOFil is one of the priority measures of the present administration as mentioned numerous times by President Rodrigo Duterte, including in his last two State of the Nation Addresses. The President also certified this most recent version filed by Go as urgent.

The proposed department will be primarily mandated to formulate, recommend and implement national policies, plans, programs and guidelines that protect overseas Filipinos, including OFWs, as well as promote their interests and resolve issues concerning them in a timely and effective manner.

The DOFil will be responsible for providing all relevant social and welfare services, including insurance, social work assistance and legal assistance, as well as administer reintegration and social service programs to overseas Filipinos. It shall also provide Assistance to Nationals services, especially during times of national emergencies, such as pandemic or war.

"Importante mabigyan na natin sila ng departamento. Isipin mo, ten million OFWs ang nasa ibang bansa. Ibig sabihin, 10% ng population 'yan tapos wala silang departamento," explained Go.

"Ako naman po ay makikiusap sa mga kasamahan ko sa Senado na suportahan naman po dahil priority po ito ng mahal na Pangulo, priority po ng mga kababayan natin sa ibang bansa at ang ating mga OFW na nagsasakripisyo," he added.

Earlier, Go expressed concern over the inconveniences that occur should the bureaucracy continue to remain in its current state which affects the ability of the whole government to respond appropriately and deliver in a timely manner the assistance needed by Filipinos abroad and their families in the Philippines with regard to OFW concerns, especially amid the ongoing global health crisis.

Go emphasized the need to streamline all related responsibilities concerning Filipinos overseas into one department so that decisions and actions can be made in the most expedient, most efficient, and most responsive mechanism possible.

Previously, Go has also successfully appealed on behalf of OFWs bound for deployment abroad to be considered as part of essential sectors to be vaccinated under the A4 category. He also supported the appeal of seafarers and other OFWs to consider the requirements needed for them to resume their work abroad, such as the need to be inoculated with vaccines that are acceptable in their countries of destination, as well as the necessary documentation to prove that they have been vaccinated.

"Huwag natin ipagkait sa mga kababayan nating nasa abroad ang serbisyong dapat nilang makuha sa panahong pinaka-nangangailangan sila. Gawin natin ang dapat upang maisaayos ang ating burokrasya. Unahin natin ang buhay at kapakanan ng mga Pilipino, kahit asan man silang sulok ng mundo," Go emphasized.

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