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SENATE OK TO TACKLE BILL ON OFW DEPT – VILLANUEVA

Senator Joel Villanueva expressed readiness to tackle the proposal to create the Department of Overseas Filipinos, as the Committee on Labor, Employment, Human Resources and Development is currently on standby amid the proposal to balance the bills creating new departments with the measure rightsizing the bureaucracy.

“We’ve been meeting with our counterparts, and doing our homework. We understand that the proposed department to handle OFWs is part of our government’s priorities, and we are prepared to deliberate this as we have been doing,” Villanueva said.

The veteran legislator said he recognized some apprehension of his colleagues in establishing a new layer of bureaucracy, given that the Senate is likewise deliberating a bill seeking to right-size the national government or Senate Bill No. 244.

“There are members of the Senate who shared their reservations on the creation of new departments.”

“During the deliberations on the 2021 budget, there are members of the Senate who shared their reservations on the creation of new departments, including the Department of Overseas Filipinos. On the record, the Rightsizing bill was also identified as part of the legislative agenda in the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017 to 2020, and was also included in the President’s SONA last year,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

“We’re optimistic that the bill will continue to move forward in the legislative mill, now that our friends in the executive department have already consolidated into a unified bill all concerns raised by various stakeholders from the various agencies,” said the chair of the Senate labor committee.

The members of the executive, represented by Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also presented a unified version of the measure.

The senator said the need for better services for OFWs has been clearer with the pandemic triggering massive layoffs around the world.

He emphasized the need to address the plight of Filipino migrant workers who have suffered due to illegal recruitment, exploitative work conditions, and encountered issues with reintegration and repatriation.

“Our goal in the hearing is clear: We want to address the plight of our modern-day heroes and provide them with more and better services. We likewise expressed openness to the inputs of our colleagues and our resource persons in understanding whether addressing the gaps and loopholes in rendering service to the OFWs necessitates the creation of a separate department,” Villanueva stressed.

“We want to address the plight of our modern-day heroes and provide them with more and better services.”

“Our dream for our OFWs is big. We must ensure full cycle upliftment, not just for assistance and service during pre-deployment and deployment, but more so on the improvement of the lives of OFWs and their families when they return to the country,” he concluded.

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