Fri. Feb 26th, 2021
(Photo Courtesy: http://www.journal.com.ph)

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go welcomed a recent statement made by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd in which the senator expressed his openness to support the establishment of a single department for overseas Filipinos.

“I thank Senate President Tito Sotto for his statements supporting the importance of establishing the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil). Creating DOFil is pursuant to our twin goals of rightsizing the government and improving the delivery of its various services,” stated Go partly in Filipino.

In an interview given on December 19, Sotto said he was “inclined to support” the Senate passage of Senate Bill No. (sbn) 1949 that shall “rightsize” the Department of Labor and Employment. He added he would discuss the matter with his fellow lawmakers once congressional sessions resume in January 2021.

“This is the right measure, and this will target the concern of our country, where are the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). So, this is a good discussion. Of the departments to be created, this is the one I am inclined to support,” Sotto said in Filipino.

In response, Go emphasized that the establishment of the DOFil would help “rightsize” the bureaucracy by streamlining and rationalizing the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration.

“[It is] about time that we create a Cabinet-level, secretary-led department that will protect the rights and advance the interests and welfare of about ten percent of our population,” Go said.

SBN 1949 is the third iteration of a measure filed by Go in 2019. The latest version of the bill “represents the unified position of the entire Executive branch of the government” including the agencies which will be affected by the reorganization.”

To ensure the efficient delivery of government services, the new Secretary for DOFil has the authority to transfer, delineate, reassign or reorganize the functional areas or responsibilities of each departmental office or operating unit.

The measure also consolidates the Legal Assistance Fund and Assistance to Nationals Fund, which are administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs, into a single fund that will be administered by DOFil.

SBN 1949 notably improves the provision of the One Country-Team approach by putting all officers, representatives, and personnel of the Philippine government posted abroad, regardless of their mother agencies, on a per country basis, under the leadership of the Ambassador or the Consul General.

The DOFil bill has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo Duterte, allowing the Senate to fast-track its passage. A counterpart measure has also been passed in the House of Representatives.

Through a whole-of-nation effort initiated by Go, various concerned agencies and private donors, Malik Darimbang, an overseas Filipino worker who was stuck in Saudi Arabia for six years due to a legal battle, and was successfully repatriated last week.Go emphasized that the establishment of DOFil will strengthen government mechanisms in response to various crises being faced by distressed OFWs and further protect the rights of all overseas Filipinos, such as Darimbang. SOVEREIGNPH

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