The House Committees on Government Reorganization chaired by Rep. Mario Vittorio Mariño (5th District, Batangas) and Overseas Workers Affairs chaired by Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza (Party-list, TUCP), approved the unnumbered consolidated bill creating the Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Employment.

The approved bill, which harmonized 39 measures, was drafted by the joint panel’s technical working group chaired by Representatives Joey Sarte Salceda (2nd District, Albay) and Eric Pineda (Party-list, 1PACMAN).

“The absence of a single agency to address foreign employment concerns has made it difficult for the government to focus on the needs and demands of migration.”

Among those consolidated into the new bill is House Bill No. (HB) 2 by Speaker Alan Peter “Compañero” Cayetano.

In his explanatory note, Cayetano said the absence of a single agency to address foreign employment concerns has made it difficult for the government to focus on the needs and demands of migration in general and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in particular.

Under the approved consolidated bill, the Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Employment shall be the primary agency responsible for the protection of the rights and promotion of welfare of all Filipinos overseas. The department shall formulate, administer, and implement policies and undertake programs to manage and monitor OFWs and overseas Filipinos.

Primary among the changes proposed and approved during the meeting is the designation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) as the core institution under the department. Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) shall function as an attached agency of the POEA.

Moreover, services abroad shall be expanded to better cater to overseas Filipinos in distress and to establish regional offices. A Philippine Representative Office for Overseas Filipinos shall be established in other countries. The office shall be staffed with at least one official to take care of overseas Filipinos problems on-site within that country.

“The creation of the Department of Filipino Overseas is the apex of national response to the OFW phenomenon.”

Salceda noted that the creation of a department solely dedicated for overseas Filipinos is “the apex [of] national response to the OFW phenomenon.”

“This bill is about dignity of labor, whether here or abroad. It’s all about engaging, employing, and enhancing the dignity of Philippine labor… The creation of the Department of Filipino Overseas is an act of social justice. It’s nothing more, nothing less,” the veteran legislator said.

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