Why create another giant bureaucracy for brain drain?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 24, 2021 - 12:00am

The bill creating the Department of Overseas Filipinos had been railroaded in the Lower House without the benefit of an in-depth, intensive and extensive study. Initially, I was open to it. Today, after much soul-searching and analysis, I am opposing the proposal in my capacity as a retired DOLE undersecretary, labor attaché to Malaysia, Kuwait, and Taiwan, and as a former labor arbiter who handled thousands of cases involving OFWs. I have my reasons.

This bill, House Bill 5832, intending to create a Department of Filipino Overseas and Foreign Employment is being silently opposed by the DOLE which stands to lose almost one-half of its turf, its budget, and its personnel, and also by the DFA, which also sees a tremendous diminution of its importance, insofar as OFWs and overseas Filipinos are concerned. This bill creates another duplication of functions, another layer of bureaucratic rigmaroles and will be funded by more taxation, thus a heavier burden to the overtaxed middle class. Of course, secretaries Bebot Bello III of DOLE and Teddy Locsin of DFA are just biting their lips because Manong Digong is strongly endorsing this hastily-crafted monstrosity.

Only the genuine opposition in the House has voiced its objection, and that means congressmen Edcel Lagman and Carlos Zarate who are the most courageous voices of the people. The overwhelming majority in the House have obediently bowed to the powers of Malacañang and 173 so-called legislators voted in favor and only 11 opposed it. Well, I think all the representatives from Cebu have joined the bandwagon. We do not have a Jun Davide, a Talyux Bacalso, or a Celing Fernan in our legislature anymore. We have sent to the House very honorable and ultra-conservative solons, who do not want to rock the boat, but who just want to safely dance to the music, and march, as well-behaved boy scouts and girl scouts under a very stern scoutmaster in the Palace,

The new department will absorb the functions of the POEA, OWWA, the International Labor Affairs Bureau of DOLE, the labor attachés, and the Office of the Undersecretary For Migrant Affairs in DFA, as well as the Commission of Filipino Overseas, I agree with the oppositors that this bill will perpetuate our fixation on overseas employment, we are driving away our human capital and promoting brain drain. The Philippines has become the number one supplier of maids and construction workers. We continue to destroy the family and marriage which are the basic foundations of our society.

The Senate should reject this or postpone its deliberations at a time when we are no longer facing a COVID crisis. This is not an urgent bill. The outgoing government just wants to leave a legacy because it has failed in the drug war. It has failed in the federalization advocacy. This may be the only lasting achievement it can claim. We should not give it to them at the expense of the greater good for our people.

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