Press Release
May 17, 2021

Dela Rosa pushes for passage of Department for OFWs

SENATOR Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa has sought for the establishment of a department tasked to look after the interest of Filipinos overseas without causing a "swell" to the state bureaucracy since it will be an integration of functions of existing concerned government agencies.

This after Dela Rosa authored and filed Senate Bill No. 2110 (SBN 2110), to be known as "Department of Overseas Filipinos Act," to rationalize and put "under one roof" the powers and functions of separate concerned offices to ensure a more effective implementation of policies and programs for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of overseas Filipinos, especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

"With a single but focused department wherein the mandates of key agencies are synchronized, our overseas Filipinos are assured of easily accessible and more available, and, at the same time, swift assistance and services. Hence, the early passage of this bill is earnestly sought," he said.

Under SBN 2110, which the top cop filed last month, the Department of Overseas Filipinos shall be created and will subsume all the powers and functions of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs of the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and the International Labor Affairs Bureau under the Department of Labor and Employment, the Social Welfare Attaches Office under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be attached to the proposed department for purposes of policy and coordination.

However, the OWWA Board of Trustees shall be reconstituted to include 3 representatives each of the land-based and sea-based OFWs, and 1 representative each of the women, land-based recruitment, and sea-based recruitment sectors.

The OWWA Trust Fund created under Republic Act 10801 which serves as support to the programs and services for member-OFWs, such as social benefits, educational and livelihood assistance, and reintegration programs, will be renamed OFW Fund. Further, this private fund of OFWs shall be utilized primarily for the welfare benefits of the member-OFWs and their families and can only be resorted to for repatriation assistance as a last resort. Repatriation assistance and other assistance for Overseas Filipinos in distress shall be charged to the Assistance to National Fund.

The Mindanaoan Senator said the Department of Overseas Filipinos will protect and promote as well the welfare, well-being, and interest of families of overseas Filipinos.

According to the Stock Estimate of Filipino Overseas by the Commission on Filipino Overseas, there is a total of 10.2 million overseas Filipinos in more than two hundred destination countries and territories, of which 4.8 million are permanent migrants, 4.2 million temporary migrants, and 1.2 million are irregular migrants.

There are 2.2 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) working abroad, based on the 2019 Survey on Overseas Filipinos by the Philippine Statistics Authority.

"With the huge number of our kababayans living and working abroad, it is important that policies and programs for the promotion of their welfare and protection must be unequivocally instituted," Dela Rosa said.

Dela Rosa's bill is included in the ongoing Technical Working Group discussion headed by the Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resource Development on the Creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos. The said TWG aims to hear additional suggestions and recommendations of the stakeholders especially the OFWs to ensure that the final version of the Senate bill will be responsive to the needs of those concerned.

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