Press Releases

STATEMENT OF REP JOEY SARTE SALCEDA ON THE APPROVAL ON THIRD READING OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MIGRANT WORKERS AND OVERSEAS FILIPINOS IN THE SENATE

December 15th, 2021

I laud the approval of the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos by the Senate last night and I am very optimistic about its enactment during this Congress. As Head of the Technical Working Group of the House, having laboriously consulted the various concerned sectors, I am elated by this development and hope to meet my counterparts soon to discuss our steps forward.

I am a strong believer that form should follow function. For very long, we have insisted on keeping the OFW agencies disperse, and in undermanned units of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, and others even when OFWs contribute around 12% of the country’s GDP. That is more than most sectors with their own respective cabinet-level agencies do. It is time that we recognize the unique circumstances of this country – a diaspora that remains closely in touch with the country itself – and allow governmental form to follow the needs of this sector.

I am also optimistic that our Senate counterparts and the House will be able to agree on a final version that we can be proud of sending to the President. As you know, this is a SONA priority of President Duterte.

I am particularly proud of the creation of the Migrant Workers Offices in the country’s embassies. We currently manage OFW concerns in a very ad hoc manner among our embassies. With the institutionalization of an office and a system for helping our OFWs in the countries where they work, OFWs can rest better assured that they are not alone in these countries.

The institutionalization of a full cycle reintegration program is also a key feature of this potential law. I will be suggesting, at the proper time, a provision that would allow us to benefit from the skills gained by OFWs abroad. Reintegration should include a skills transfer, and in the tech-voc centered education system that I envision for the country, highly-skilled OFWs will make excellent teachers. Part of reintegration must be to make returning OFWs feel that they are not dependents of the state, but are highly important contributors to national development, even when they come home.

Congress is about to go on break this week, and we probably need to sit down in the House to review the provisions of this bill. Hence, adoption is not very likely. But we will see to it that when we resume session early next year, we will have studied the provisions so we can quickly convene the bicameral committee. Expect final enactment of this measure before the campaign period begins in February. (end)

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