President Rodrigo Roa Duterte with Sen. Christopher ‘Bong’ Go | Photo via Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO)
MANILA – Senator Christopher “Bong” Go filed Senate Bill No.1835 on Sept. 16, 2020 for the creation of a single department that will handle concerns of overseas Filipinos. It is the second iteration of SBN 202 he filed last year. The Office of the Cabinet Secretary and Presidential Legislative Liaison Office to the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development endorsed the measure. SBN 1835 is a priority measure of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The proposed department, if created, shall bring together in one agency all the responsibilities about Filipinos overseas, presently scattered among numerous departments and agencies. The government can streamline and improve the delivery of critical services, particularly to distressed OFWs and other overseas Filipinos.
The DOOF will be primarily responsible for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipinos. It shall formulate, plan, coordinate, promote, administer, and implement policies and undertake systematic national programs to manage and monitor Filipino workers’ foreign employment and their reintegration once they come home.
The DOOF will comprise the following integrated offices: the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs of the DFA, the Commission on Overseas Filipinos, all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices under the Department of Labor and Employment, the International Labor Affairs Bureau under DOLE, and International Social Services Office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.
The proposed DOOF shall also exercise administrative supervision over the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, which shall be attached to the proposed department.
Senator Go’s bill directs the establishment of Migrant Workers and other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers in every country of destination for distressed overseas Filipinos who need shelter, medical attention, and other forms of assistance.
It will also set up Overseas Filipino Malasakit Centers throughout the Philippines. These one-stop shops will issue clearances and permits, validate overseas job offers, and offer reintegration services, seminars, and workshops to migrant Filipinos and their families.
Go said that 10 million overseas Filipinos deserve a department of their own to focus on their needs. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, it has repatriated 237,363 overseas Filipino workers since the start of the pandemic.
The Senate will discuss the proposed bill on Dec. 7.