enator Christopher “Bong” Go urged the government to ensure that there will be no disruptions in the delivery of government services to overseas Filipino workers as the agencies currently in charge of OFW-related matters are gradually absorbed by the Department of Migrant Workers under a two-year transition period.
During this period, the functions, assets, and funds, among others, of relevant agencies shall be transferred to the DMW.
The seven affected agencies are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), and National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration; and the Office of the Social Welfare Attaché (OSWA) under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
The formulation of the internal organic structure, staffing pattern, operating system, and revised budget of the DMW will also be carried out during the transition period.
“Tuluy-tuloy na po ang pagbuo ng bagong departamentong ito na siyang magbibigay ng agarang serbisyo sa ating OFWs na napakalaki ng ambag sa ating ekonomiya,” said Go.
“Habang nasa transition period tayo, hinihimok ko ang gobyerno na siguruhing hindi maaantala ang paghahatid natin ng serbisyo sa ating mga OFWs,” he added.
Pursuant to Section 23 of the DMW Act, which took effect recently, the Office of the President issued a memorandum constituting the Transition Committee to facilitate the complete and full operation of the DMW.
The Transition Committee will be led by the DMW Secretary to be appointed by the President. However, should the President require more time to appoint one, the Undersecretary of OUMWA will be directed to immediately convene the Committee.
The Administrator of POEA and Directors of ILAB, NRCO, NMP, and OSWA shall also form part of the Committee.
On December 30, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11641, creating the DMW in a bid to improve coordination among agencies dealing with the concerns of Filipino migrant workers.
The new department will operate as a one-stop shop for both documented and undocumented OFWs, rendering government services from pre-employment to employment and reintegration.
The Senate version of the Act, Senate Bill No. 2234, was authored and co-sponsored by Go. It is a consolidated version of an earlier bill he introduced to establish the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, which would ensure the efficient and effective delivery of critical public services.
“It is one of the first bills I filed as a senator. Talagang ipinaglaban natin ito. Finally… mayroon na tayong isang departamento na tutugon sa mga pangangailangan ng ating migrant workers,” Go shared in his previous interviews.
“Regalo natin ito sa mga (migrant workers) na nagsasakripisyo. Malaki ang ambag sa ating bayan ng modern heroes natin. Para po ito sa inyo, itong Department of Migrant Workers,” he continued.
Noting the enormous hardships faced by migrant workers, many of whom have lost their employment and been repatriated as a result of the ongoing pandemic, Go said that the DMW will devote all of the government’s resources to safeguarding and furthering the rights and interests of the country’s modern-day heroes.
“Nung nagsimula itong pandemya, mahigit isang milyong migrant workers ang nawalan ng trabaho at umuwi. Mas lalong kakailanganin natin itong departamentong ‘to para mag-asikaso at magbigay importansya sa (kanila)… para hindi na sila nagmamakaawa humingi ng tulong,” he explained.
The DMW is also responsible for regulating private recruiting firms in order to safeguard the safety of migrant workers. It will also collaborate with the Department of Justice and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking to investigate and assist in the prosecution of cases involving unlawful recruitment and human trafficking.
Furthermore, the Act establishes a Management Information System that will serve as a registration for all migrant workers, a 24-hour Emergency Response and Action Center Unit, as well as a media and social media monitoring center to respond to their emergency needs.
It also creates the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan Fund, which will be utilized to give legal and other types of support to migrant workers. The AKSYON Fund will be separate from the DFA’s Assistance to Nationals Fund and Legal Assistance Fund.