Villanueva: Senate labor committee begins hearings into creation of Department of Overseas Filipinos
Discussions into the creation of a new government department handling exclusively the issues of overseas Filipinos are set to resume when the Senate labor committee continues its public hearing into several legislative proposals on Monday.
But more than untangling policy issues and addressing the needs of overseas Filipino workers, Senator Joel Villanueva expects that the hearings would zoom in on the primary motivation of thousands of workers who set off to foreign shores just to earn a living for their families and loved ones.“
Kaya po libu-libo sa ating mga manggagawa ang nakikipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa ay dahil sa kakulangan ng trabaho at oportunidad dito sa ating bansa. Wala pong ama o ina na mas nanaisin na mawalay sa kanilang mga anak at pamilya para lang sa hanapbuhay,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.“
Napakalalim ng social cost ng ating mga OFWs, at hindi po ito matatawaran ng kahit anong halaga ng salapi. Marami na pong pagkakataon na buhay mismo ng ating manggagawa ang ibinubuwis nila para lamang mabigyan ng magandang kinabukasan ang kanilang pamilya,” the lawmaker continued in a statement, referring to OFWs who suffer maltreatment from the hands of their employers.
“We’re optimistic that our colleagues in the national government would come to the hearings with an open mind. The challenge is to address the disconnect between overseas employment’s policies and programs, rationalize human resource complement, and cut layering, especially in on-site services. We’re looking at this process as rightsizing done right,”
“Ang pagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa ay hindi kailanman po dapat maging panghabangbuhay. Kailangan pong malinaw na may mga programa na ipatutupad ang ating gobyerno upang paghandaan ang pagbabalik ng ating mga manggagawa at siguruhing muli silang makakapasok sa ating labor force,” he added.
Villanueva’s labor committee would hear several bills proposing that a new government department called Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) be established to handle concerns of OFWs.
Aside from improving frontline services particularly distress and repatriation efforts, Villanueva reiterated the importance of implementing upskilling and re-skilling programs for OFWs and factor in the experience they gained overseas. Doing so would make them more employable in the local labor market, he pointed out.
Villanueva assuaged concerns that putting up DOFil would further bloat the government bureaucracy, saying that it was an opportunity to use rightsizing parameters in merging several offices and agencies involved in overseas employment into one efficient and effective agency.
The Senate labor committee chair has been calling out the national government to fill its vacant plantilla positions, which reached about 180,000 last year, while there are about 670,000 job orders.
“We’re optimistic that our colleagues in the national government would come to the hearings with an open mind. The challenge is to address the disconnect between overseas employment’s policies and programs, rationalize human resource complement, and cut layering, especially in on-site services. We’re looking at this process as rightsizing done right,” Villanueva said.