Villanueva: Senate rules committee green-lights hearings into proposed body for OFW concerns
Hearings on the proposed establishment of new government departments, including one solely to handle concerns of overseas Filipino workers, have received the green light to proceed, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.
Villanueva said the body’s Committee on Rules decided on Monday to allow several standing committees to proceed with hearing bills on establishing new government departments alongside the proposed rightsizing measure which seeks to trim the “excess fat” in the bureaucracy.
“This is a welcome development. We will resume the committee hearings into the overseas Filipino department bills. The pandemic has exposed the weakness of our policies on OFWs, particularly our reintegration program to help them transition back to the local labor force,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.
“We support the principles of rightsizing, especially because we have been raising the issue of unfilled positions and contractuals in government for the longest time. We will do our best to tackle all issues and hear all sides being raised in this particular measure in the Committee on Labor,” the lawmaker continued in the rules committee meeting on Monday morning. “Who knows that this could be a model for rightsizing done right.”
The challenge ahead is to ensure that the proposed Department of Filipinos Overseas would mean better lives for OFWs and their families and decent job opportunities, here or overseas, explained Villanueva in a statement.
“We support the principles of rightsizing, especially because we have been raising the issue of unfilled positions and contractuals in government for the longest time. We will do our best to tackle all issues and hear all sides being raised in this particular measure in the Committee on Labor,”
“Hindi lang po ito simpleng lipat-bahay na gawain dahil kailangan po natin itatag ang departamento na may malinaw na mandato at maglatag ng solusyon, hindi lamang sa mga isyu ng ating mga OFW, kundi sa pagsiguradong hindi kapit-sa-patalim ang paninilbihan sa ibang bansa," the lawmaker said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri commended Villanueva for pushing the discussions forward especially the issue concerns overseas Filipino workers. “Senator Villanueva has found ways and means to push this discussion forward,” Zubiri said at the committee meeting.
For his part, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon credited Villanueva’s diligence in “prioritizing bills concerning the welfare of our labor sector including our overseas Filipino workers.
“So I have full confidence in the judgment of the good chair of the Committee on Labor, that he can influence the thinking of the committee to come up with the most rational solution to a very vexing issue of a bureaucracy, of rationalizing our bureaucracy versus the prioritization that we ought to have in lieu of the pandemic and the acute economic situation that we are in today,” Drilon said at the committee hearing.
Offhand, Villanueva said he would look at how the proposed department would improve the delivery of frontline services to OFWs such as distress and repatriation efforts, among others; upskilling and re-skilling program; strengthen the drive against illegal recruitment, and create a comprehensive reintegration program to help transition OFWs back into the local labor force.