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OFW DEPARTMENT FOR SENATE’S OK SOON – VILLANUEVA

Senators wrapped up their interpellation on the bill creating a department to handle concerns of 10 million overseas Filipinos, bringing the measure closer to approval in the Senate.

Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate labor committee, said the termination of the period of interpellation and debates “means we’re entering the last quarter of the game”.

When Congress resumes sessions in November, the bill will be entering the period of amendments were senators will “further polish and improve” the bill, Villanueva said.

The veteran legislator described the DMWOF (Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos) bill, which he sponsored and defended in plenary, as having undergone a “line by line” examination by both majority and minority senators.

“It is as if the proposed department were a building and senators took a floor-by-floor, room-by-room review of the blueprint.”

“It is as if the proposed department were a building and senators took a floor-by-floor, room-by-room review of the blueprint. Ganun po kasinsin iyon, kasi ganun kahalaga ang departamentong ito sa atin, lalo na po sa ating mga kababayang OFWs,” the seasoned lawmaker said.

The senator explained that the lengthy debates allowed senators to clearly delineate the roles of the DFA, DOLE, and DMWOF “in order to expedite onsite assistance to our OFWs and implement preventive interventions”.

“Kailangan po talaga ng klaro na division of labor so these agencies will work in symphony,” he said.

“OFW-members of OWWA should not be funding their own assistance programs.”

“Another issue that was subjected to a healthy exchange of ideas was the protection of OWWA Trust Fund. I believe that the OFW-members of OWWA should not be funding their own assistance programs especially in repatriation during emergencies. Repatriation should be covered by the general appropriations act, and not sourced from the OWWA Funds,” Villanueva stressed.

He said the debates have provided enough inputs on “how to include provisions that will make sure that the mandates of the DMWOF will be funded”.

Villanueva said work on the bill would continue while Congress is in recess, particularly harmonizing the provisions to reflect the inputs and insights drawn from the debates and discussions.

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