Villanueva: Labor export won't be PH policy with DMWOF; Proposed department has sunset provision
Senator Joel Villanueva today said the proposed Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF), which he is sponsoring on the Senate floor, will push for job creation in the country so that overseas employment will just be a choice in explaining the provision to abolished the department in 10 years.
At the continuation of the plenary deliberations into Senate Bill No. 2234 on Wednesday, Villanueva said a provision requires a mandatory review by an oversight committee of Congress of the labor situation 10 years after the creation of the DMWOF to determine if the new department is no longer needed.
“We aspire for the day when Filipinos will not leave the country because they need to, but because they want to,” Villanueva said during interpellation by Senator Kiko Pangilinan.
Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said he agreed with the premise that Filipinos won’t leave their families and life behind if better opportunities were available for them in the Philippines.
He cited high unemployment in the country during the pandemic as one of the driving factors for Filipinos to search for greener pastures abroad.
Last June alone, Villanueva said the unemployment rate was 7.7 percent while underemployment is in double digits. In April 2020, unemployment soared to 17.7 percent.
“Under those circumstances, you will really consider employment abroad,” Villanueva said.
“We aspire for the day when Filipinos will not leave the country because they need to, but because they want to.”
“At the end of the day, it is best for our government to keep on creating jobs domestically,” he said.
“We are aware that our countrymen leave abroad for greener pastures,” Villanueva said.
One of the key provisions of the DMWOF bill, according to Villanueva, is the reintegration of OFWs returning to the Philippines.
The new department would serve as a catalyst in job creation to keep Filipinos from leaving, he said, through a “full cycle” concept of reintegration for OFWs.
“Reintegration is a vital part of this measure,” said Villanueva.
Two initial tasks that OFWs can perform in nation-building as they transition to a local job from foreign employment is to become tourism ambassadors, or for those teaching in foreign Ivy League schools, to add to the prestige of state universities and colleges by teaching there, Villanueva said.
But while the goal of generating enough employment to keep Filipinos from leaving has not been reached yet, Villanueva said the DMWOF would serve as a one-stop shop for OFWs and overseas Filipinos for repatriation or emergency purposes.
Right now, Villanueva said, there’s confusion even in data for OFWs and overseas Filipinos. There’s more confusion when it comes to repatriation or assisting Filipinos in times of emergency, he said.