With 173 voting in the affirmative and 11 in the negative, the House of Representatives passed on third and final reading yesterday the proposed Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment.
House Bill 5832 entitled the Department of Filipinos Overseas Act consolidated 39 different legislative proposals authored by at least 80 House members.
Under the bill, the new department will be the primary agency under the Executive branch that will be tasked to protect the rights and promote the welfare of Filipinos overseas.
Batangas Rep. Mario Vittorio Marino defended the bill on the floor as chairman of the House Committee on Government Organization.
Authors include House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; House Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales (NP, Pampanga); and Reps. Rosemarie Arenas (PDP-Laban, Pangasinan) and Michael Romero (1Pacman partylist).
Under the bill, no person involved in the business of recruitment of OFWs can be appointed secretary or key official of the new department.
Once enacted, the new law will authorize the DFO to subsume the functions of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs; Commission on Filipinos Overseas; Philippine Overseas Labor Offices; International Labor Affairs Bureau; Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Social Welfare Attaches Office.
The new department will be tasked to formulate, plan, coordinate, promote, administer, implement policies, and undertake systematic national development programs for managing and monitoring the overseas or foreign employment of OFWs.
The DFO will also administer reintegration and social services programs for Filipinos who have worked abroad and are returning to the country, and for their families; and effectively regulate the operations of private recruitment and manning agencies and related business entities involved in the employment of Filipinos abroad to uphold the primacy of the welfare and protection of OFWs, with due consideration of the relevant market conditions.
The bill provides the allocation of P5 billion for Assistance-to Nationals Fund for OFWs in distress abroad. (Ben Rosario)