Thu. May 26th, 2022

In fulfillment of his campaign promise to address the longstanding issues affecting Filipino migrant workers, President Rodrigo Duterte finally signed Republic Act No. 11641 which establishes the Department of Migrant Workers.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, staunchest advocate of the measure, authored and co-sponsored the Senate version of the Act, Senate Bill No. 2234.  It is the consolidated version of an earlier measure he filed which sought to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.

President Duterte certified the measure as urgent in December of the previous year.

The newly-established department shall serve as the lead agency for formulating and implementing policies, plans and programs that will ensure the protection, promotion of interests, timely resolution of problems, and effective reintegration of migrant workers.

“I filed the early version of the bill on July 2, 2019. It is one of the first bills I filed as a senator. Talagang ipinaglaban natin ito. Finally… mayroon na tayong departamento. Nagpapasalamat ako sa mga kasamahan ko sa Lower House at sa Senado led by Senate President Senator (Vicente) Sotto and (Labor) committee chair Senator Joel Villanueva,” Go said.

“Noong una, kakaunti lang kami na may gusto hanggang dumami na. Nagpapasalamat ako sa lahat ng sumuporta. Regalo natin ito sa mga (migrant workers) na nagsasakripisyo. Malaki ang ambag sa ating bayan ng modern heroes natin!” he continued.

The DMW will focus the resources of the government on protecting the rights and advancing the interests of overseas Filipino workers. In his interview, the senator noted the unprecedented challenges facing migrant workers, many of whom lost their jobs and were repatriated amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Isipin niyo mahigit 10 million ang (overseas Filipinos) natin. 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)… he explained.

The new Act will streamline the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration.

The DMW will absorb the powers and functions of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs under the Department of Foreign Affairs; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Philippine Overseas Labor Office, International Labor Affairs Bureau, and National Maritime Polytechnic under the Department of Labor and Employment; National Reintegration Center for OFWs under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration; and Office of the Social Welfare Attaché under the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The OWWA, meanwhile, shall be attached to the DMW for policy and program coordination purposes.

Sa pamamagitan ng (DMW), tapos na ang panahon na pinagpapasa-pasahan ang mga kababayan natin. Hindi na nila kailangang mahirapan … Isang departamento nalang ang lalapitan nila para humingi ng tulong, ng maaasahan na serbisyo,” said the lawmaker.

“Magmumula ang amount needed for the initial implementation ng batas sa current year’s appropriation o budget ng agencies and offices na na-transfer dito sa DMW. After this, ang budget ng department ay isasama sa annual (General) Appropriations Act,” he explained.

To further ensure the protection of the migrant workers, the DMW is also mandated to regulate private recruitment agencies.

In addition, it will work alongside the Department of Justice and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking to investigate, pursue and help prosecute illegal recruitment and human trafficking cases.

The Act also provides for the creation of the Management Information System which will serve as the registry of all migrant workers and a 24/7 Emergency Response and Action Center Unit and media and social media monitoring center to respond to their emergency needs.

Moreover, it establishes the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan or AKSYON Fund which will be used to provide legal and other forms of assistance to migrant workers. The AKSYON Fund will be separate and distinct from the Assistance to Nationals Fund and the Legal Assistance Fund of DFA.

Leave a Reply