Press Release
April 28, 2022

Drilon backs Bello on Saudi deployment ban, calls on Duterte to resolve confusion caused by Mama-o's appointment

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said only the President can end the confusion caused by the appointment of his former adviser, Abdullah Mama-o, as secretary of the yet-to-be-constituted Department of Migrant Workers.

"I urge the President to intervene for the sake of the labor sector and migrant workers that we seek to protect with the passage of the Republic Act 11641. Mama-o's actions are sowing confusion. Only the President has the authority to do so under the Constitution, because he has control over the executive and all its departments," Drilon said.

"The President is bound by the Constitution to ensure that all laws are faithfully executed. Mama-o's actions are illegal since he cannot perform the function of a full-fledged secretary until the Department of Migrant Workers is fully constituted. That is clear under the law," he stressed.

The former labor secretary sided with his predecessor, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who immediately countered the order issued by Mama-o that lifted the ban on the deployment of newly-hired Filipino workers to Saudi Arabia.

"The jurisdiction still remains with Secretary Bello, because the Department of Migrant Workers does not exist yet. We have a transitory provision in the law that Mama-o should recognize and respect," Drilon said.

He said that Section 23 of RA 11641 is clear that the department shall not be constituted without an appropriation in the 2023 General Appropriations Act, an effective implementing rules and regulations, and a staffing pattern.

Drilon called the appointment of Mama-o as the root cause of all the confusion and policy disputes that sent shock to the labor and migrant workers industry.

"It is about time that the President intervenes and resolves the conflict created by the appointment of Mama-o. To allow this situation to continue is detrimental to the interest of the labor sector and the OFWs," Drilon said.

Under Article VII, Sec. 17 of the Constitution, "Section 17. The President shall have control of all the executive departments, bureaus, and offices. He shall ensure that the laws be faithfully executed."

RA 11641 created the Department of Migrant Workers. The President appointed Mama-o as its secretary last March.

The former executive secretary explained that Mama-o's appointment is illegal since the new department is yet to be constituted, including the staffing pattern in order to create the positions, including the position of secretary, in the yet-be-constituted Department of Migrant Workers

He added the appointment of Mama-o is just to be a member of the transition committee. It is the height of absurdity and clearly against legislative intent to allow the new appointee to determine policies without an actual department. The intention was to allow for a smooth transition and turnover and this is the exact opposite of that.

Drilon reiterated his earlier warning to Mama-o that he could be held liable for usurpation of authority if he continues to exercise the functions of a yet-to-be-constituted department.

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