DECADES after the launching of the overseas employment program, the House of Representatives has passed on third and final reading a bill that reflects the concern over the welfare of overseas Filipinos.
Authored by a number of well-meaning district and party-list legislators, House Bill (HB) No. 5832 calls for the establishment of the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment (DFOFE).
Among other things, HB No. 5832 mandates the new department to formulate, recommend and implement policies, plans and programs that will ensure the protection of Filipinos working or living abroad.
The proposed legislation likewise seeks to protect and promote the welfare, well-being and interest of the families of the more than 10 million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in various parts of the world.
Note that the dollar remittances of these OFWs, many of them health professionals, engineers, construction workers, seamen and domestic helpers, help prop up the still struggling local economy.
Under the measure, the new department will become the central body that will handle all concerns of Filipinos living and working in foreign lands, including the United States and the oil-rich Middle East.
The DFOFE will absorb the powers and functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Commission on Filipino Overseas, Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office for Migrant Workers and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Office for International Social Services.
HB No. 5832 also calls for the transfer of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), now an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, to the new department.
Among the main authors of the bill are Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Tingog party-list Rep. Yedda Marie K. Romualdez, Deputy Speakers Prospero Pichay, Mikee Romero and Vilma Santos-Recto, and Reps. Alfred Vargas, Mike Defensor and Eric Go Yap.
Indeed, we cannot overemphasize the importance of creating the proposed Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment considering the still mushrooming number of problematic OFWs.
This will be good for the nation and the Filipino people.