President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been steadfast in his position that the country should have a separate department that would properly address the concerns of Filipinos overseas, Senator Christopher “Bong” said on Monday.
“This is so important to him that he has called for the creation of this department in the last two State-of-the-Nation Addresses,” Go said during the Senate hearing on the proposed bill creating Department of Overseas Filipino (DOFil).
Go thanked his fellow senators, including Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development chairperson, Senator Joel Villanueva, for pushing the creation of DOFil.
“Today, we heed the call of the President to enact a measure that will create a department solely focused on the ever-growing needs of Filipinos in foreign lands. I thank our good Chair, Sen. Villanueva, and all of my colleagues who filed similar bills for leading in this first step towards the realization of this goal,” Go said.
He said the executive department has conducted series of meetings and consultations among the government agencies involved in the proposed measure to coordinate and consolidate their concerns about the DOFil.
“Nagkakaisa po ang ating mga government agencies in support of this proposed law (Our government agencies are united in support of this proposed law),” he said.
Go allayed concerns that proposed DOFil would further bloat the government bureaucracy.
“Hindi po ito pagdagdag sa ating bureaucracy. Rather, this is a measure to streamline the bureaucracy. Kaysa naman hiwa-hiwalay ang ating mga ahensya na nagsisilbi sa ating mga overseas Filipinos, hindi po ba mas maganda na nasa iisang bubong na lang sila? Iisang team, iisang mandato. Kailangan po mayroon tayong one-country-team approach (This is not an addition to our bureaucracy. Rather, this is a measure to streamline the bureaucracy. Instead of having different agencies serving overseas Filipinos, isn’t better to put them under one roof? One team, one mandate. We should have one-country-team approach),” Go said.
He added that it is important to properly listen to the voice of the OFWs.
“Sana po ay alalahanin natin na sila ang nangangailangan dito. Pakinggan po natin sila at intindihin natin kung saan po sila nanggagaling. At the end of the day, para naman po sa kanila itong isinusulong nating batas (We should remember that they are the one who are in need here. Let’s listen to them and understand where they came from. At the end of the day, this proposed law is for them),” he said.
For his part, Villanueva said it is high time to create separate department for overseas Filipinos, citing the “immeasurable contribution” of the OFWs to the country’s pride and economy, especially in these times of pandemic.
“Noong 2019, umabot po ng PHP1.56 trillion ang kabuuang cash remittances ng mga overseas Filipinos. Ito yung pinadaan sa bangko at remittance centers. Mas malaki pa ang halaga kung kasama ang perang personal na inuwi o ‘ipinakisuyo’ kay kabayang umuwi sa Pilipinas (In 2019, cash remittances of the overseas Filipinos reached PHP1.56 trillion and sent through banks and remittances center. This does not include money they personally brought home or sent through their fellow OFWs in the Philippines,” Villanueva said in his opening remarks.
These facts alone, Villlanueva said, are enough justifications to create a whole department mandated to only look after OFWs worldwide, and consolidate the mandates of smaller government offices under the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
And because overseas Filipinos are prospering worldwide, the senator noted, the country also prospered, “lifting many out of poverty.”
“At present, 12 percent of the national income is the monetized sweat of the overseas Filipinos. Their generous remittances buoy our economy up, keeping it afloat in times of economic headwinds,” Villanueva said. “Kung bibilangin po natin ang pasok ng salapi mula sa mga OFW na parang metro ng taxi, ito po ay PHP4.276 billion a day, PHP178.17 million an hour, and almost PHP3 million bawat minute (If will the money being sent by our OFWs, it is like taximeter: PHP4.276 billion a day, PHP178.17 million an hour, and almost PHP3 million every minute).
Villanueva said the proposed DOFil has been certified as urgent by Duterte. (PNA)