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Migrant worker department prepares to take over OFW-related responsibilities

Philstar.com
Migrant worker department prepares to take over OFW-related responsibilities
An overseas Filipino worker has her temperature taken prior to checking in at the counters of the NAIA-1 departure area yesterday(May 29, 2021).
Krizjohn Rosales, file

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Migrant Workers said it is working with the Department of Foreign Affairs as the new department prepares to carry out legal assistance programs once its 2023 budget approved.

The department was not included in the current budget year and is using exisitng funding allocated to existing agencies that deal with migrant worker concerns.

"We are in discussions with the DFA on how best to carry out this transition since our attaches abroad would also require some training on how to render legal assistance in partnership with law enforcement agencies in countries with a high concentration of OFWs," Migrant Workers Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople said. 

The 42 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) will be turned into Migrant Workers Offices once the department is fully constituted in 2023. 

Labor attaches will be in charge of assisting distressed overseas Filipino workers in labor disputes as well as in criminal cases. 

To prepare labor attaches for the transition, the department is hosting a strategic planning workshop next week, from December 12 to 15. Discussions on global security concerns, digitalization efforts, and maritime affairs will also be discussed during the workshop. 

"The workshop will lead to the formulation of the DMW’s strategy map with very clear indicators for performance, professionalism, and policy implementation," Undersecretary Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said.

Transition preparations

The DMW was created to streamline government agencies that cater to the rights and welfare of OFWs. Ople said the department is in constant communication with the DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment, with six of its offices to be consolidated under the DMW, to prepare for the transition by 2023.

Aside from the POLO, Republic Act 11641 merges the following agencies:

  • DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA)
  • Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
  • International Labor Affairs Bureau
  • National Maritime Polytechnic
  • National Reintegration Center for OFWs
  • Office of the Social Welfare Attache

Ople said they also plan to conduct an information and dissemination campaign for the programs and services under the DMW. 

"A lot of our OFWs don’t even know that the DMW now exists, where and how can we be reached, as well as the services that we offer," Ople said. 

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

DEPARTMENT OF MIGRANT WORKERS

TOOTS OPLE

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