‘A king without a kingdom?’: Drilon lambasts newly-appointed Migrant Workers Secretary Mama-o

‘A king without a kingdom?’: Drilon lambasts newly-appointed Migrant Workers Secretary Mama-o

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon lashed out at the President’s former adviser, Abdullah Mama-o, who was recently appointed secretary of the newly-created Department of Migrant Workers, for his erroneous interpretation of Republic Act 11641 or the law creating the Department of Migrant Workers to serve his own interest.

“His actions are not befitting of a secretary. His issuances have no basis and only disrupt what should have been a smooth transition. Clearly, he is putting his personal interest above the needs of the industry that the law seeks to protect. The President should immediately fire him,” Drilon said on Thursday.

“Being a former labor secretary, I am very much concerned about what is happening in the industry and its stakeholders – the labor sector, OFWS and migrant workers. They are the ones caught in the crossfire because of Mr. Mama-o’s actions. His actions are detrimental to the very sector that RA 11641 seeks to protect,” Drilon emphasized.

Drilon warned that Mama-o can be held liable for usurpation of authority if he continues to exercise the functions of the DMW even if the department is yet to be constituted.

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. The language of the law is mandatory and admits no other interpretation.

“I proposed that amendment in Section 23. I should know the legislative intent. There is no way to satisfy the first condition because we are only in the 2022 Budget. The deliberations for the 2023 budget will not take place until later this year,” he said.

Drilon also chided Mama-o for hastily issuing the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) without the knowledge and approval of the transition committee tasked by the law to promulgate the IRR.

“Mama-o cannot supplant legislative intent with his self-serving interpretation. it serves no one but him, at the expense of the bureaucracy, at the expense of stability. And if no one stops him, at the expense of OFWs. The administration should not condone this wanton disregard of the law,” 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.”

“This is precisely what we wanted to prevent when the law was being proposed. We knew it would cause problems so we tried to make the transition provision as detailed as possible. This is not something that one person can rush.” Drilon said.

“The issuance of IRR by Mama-o is contrary to the law, specifically Sec 23 of RA 11641. It is illegal and void. IRR cannot be the work of a single person,” he added.

The media reported that the Mama-o issued Department Order No. 1 directing all agencies “consolidated and merged into and constituted as the Department of Migrant Workers” to abide by the provisions enumerating the powers and functions of the Office of the Secretary. It also said that all pertinent documents in relation to said powers and functions shall require the signature of the Secretary.

This prompted the Office of the Executive Secretary to call Mama-o’s the latter’s attention to certain provisions of RA 11641 creating the DMW, particularly on the two-year transition period from date of effectivity and the conditions to be met under Section 23.

Drilon said the appointment of Mama-o is just to be a member of the transition committee.

“That is the only justification why he was appointed to the position. He can only exercise limited powers under the transition committee, with other officers from the different departments,” Drilon said.

The former secretary said Mama-o cannot transfer employees and officers from the agencies to be absorbed to the new department because of the election ban. His actions are contrary to law.

“He is a king without a kingdom. He has no department to lead,” he added.

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