MANILA—Sen. Cynthia Villar on Monday welcomed the plan of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte to set up a department that would focus on the affairs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Siyempre, gusto natin iyon. Iyon nga ang pangarap natin (Of course we want that. That’s our goal),” Villar told reporters in an interview.
Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, has repeatedly expressed her desire to prioritize the creation of the department for OFWs, the Department of Migration and Development.
Last June 2016, Villar filed Senate Bill No. 146 or the “Department of Migration and Development Act of 2016,” which seeks to create a department that will recommend and implement the government’s policies, plans and programs for the promotion of protection, safety, development, support, of and for Filipinos overseas and their families left behind.
She said that the department will be a dedicated department to look after the affairs of 12 million Filipinos overseas.
Villar’s proposed department also seeks to develop, implement and improve coordination with other countries with the presence of Filipinos and monitor foreign developments.
It will also promote, develop and monitor the continuing education, training and qualification, availability and deployment of OFWs and coordinate with concerned agencies in the training of overseas Filipinos to improve their competitiveness globally.
Under the bill, POEA and OWWA will be attached to the department for policy and program coordination.
Villar’s measure remains in the committee level, however, she expressed hope that under the current administration, this could be fast-tracked.
“Sabi niya ipa-fast track na nila. Kasi it’s a priority. (Pres. Duterte said he’ll have it fast-tracked because it’s a priority),” Villar said.
The senator said that the President could also use executive action but noted that it would be better the proposed department is established via legislation “because it’s more permanent.”
“Puwede siyang mag-executive pero mas maganda legislation kasi mas permanent. Baka iyong sa kaniya is a program, not really a department (He can use executive power but it’s better if it’s through legislation because it’s more permanent. Maybe his is a program, not really a department. I’ve never heard of a department created by an executive order),” she added.