Senator Christopher “Bong” Go urged his colleagues in the upper chamber to immediately act on the plight of millions of overseas Filipinos by prioritizing deliberations on one of the proposed measures seeking to create a Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOOF).
He expressed this during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development last December 7.
“While we are financially constrained, this should not stop us from doing our job and looking for better ways to improve our government. Ituloy po natin ang diskusyon (let us continue our discussions) and let us see how we can improve further this proposed measure,” Go said.
During the regular session of the Senate in the afternoon of the same day, Go again emphasized that the bill must be prioritized by the Senate as it is also one of the priority measures of the Duterte Administration.
“The budget appropriated to agencies will be utilized for this new department and will no longer incur additional burden to our financial struggles — rather it will unburden our bureaucracy and streamline functions, so we can respond better and properly maximize the resources we need,” he manifested during the session.
He stressed that many overseas Filipinos, who comprise 10 percent of the Filipino population, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to struggle to access government aid and find new economic opportunities.
He also cited the difficulties various government agencies are facing due to the lack of a holistic mechanism to address the needs of Filipinos abroad.
Go clarified that a series of consultations were conducted by the Executive Department, led by Cabinet Secretary Karlo B. Nograles, to coordinate and consolidate their concerns that resulted in a unified Executive position supporting the passage of the measure and addressing concerns raised by various stakeholders.
Go cited that President Rodrigo Duterte had shown his steadfast position on the matter when he called for the creation of the proposed department in the last two of his State of the Nation Addresses and various public pronouncements.
Go also echoed what Nograles has said that the proposed DOOF is a promise of the President to the people.
Nograles also explained in the hearing that the proposed DOOF is also an amalgamation of concerned agencies dealing with overseas Filipinos put under a single department.
“It consolidates the budgetary allocations to a single public entity to better and more efficiently serve,” Nograles said as he explained that the budget required to operate the new department will also be taken from the existing budgets of concerned agencies to be subsumed. Senate Bill No. 1835, filed by Go on September 16, 2020, is the second iteration of SBN 202 he filed last year. SOVEREIGNPH