The technical working group of the House committee tasked to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) is buckling down for the end-of-the-year target set by President Rodrigo Duterte, an official said.
Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza said the discussions for the new agency are going smoothly.
“There is much work that needs to be done but it is going as planned, of course, we all want an agency that will look after our bagong bayani (modern heroes). Hopefully, it will be our Christmas gift to them and their families,” Mendoza said in an interview.
Mendoza, who also chairs the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, also clarified that the creation of the department, which they also plan to change to the Department of Migration and Development, does not fully embrace labor export policy as a strategy for economic growth.
“This is, of course, a big setback. Overseas work should just be a freely chosen option and not because of the lack of decent jobs in the country. At my end, let me assure you that the TUCP vision is to create decent jobs at home as the social costs of overseas employment are simply staggering not only in monetary terms,” he added.
The committee head also sees the need for a sunset provision that envisions a goal that the Philippines shall also deploy skilled workers in the future.
“Maybe five to seven years from now, unskilled workers who are most vulnerable to abuses, especially domestic workers, should already be stopped except if they are going back to a former employer through a ‘Balik-Manggagawa Program’,” Mendoza said.
He also explained that the new department will not only look into issues of recruitment, deployment, repatriation, and the issue of illegal assistance to workers whose labor rights have been violated or who have been criminally violated in their receiving countries.
The bill, he said, shall seriously address the matter of ‘reintegration’.
“We want our balik-bahay OFWs to reintegrate with capital know-how and their personal experience as foundations to build a Philippine society to be more democratic and equitable. This is the vision that we wilt bring to the OFW conversation,” he added.
The House of Representatives started in September their deliberations on several bills proposing its creation, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order stated during his State of the Nation Address.
There were thirty-two bills filed to create a new department. (PNA)