By William Casis | FilAm Star Correspondent
Lawmakers support the enactment into law of a proposal creating a new Department of Migration and Development (DMD) to implement government policies, strategies and programs for the protection and advancement of the growing number of Filipinos overseas.
“There is ample support in both chambers of Congress for the bill establishing the DMD, so we have high hopes the measure will be passed,” said ACTS-OFW Rep. Aniceto ‘John’ Bertiz III.
Bertiz’s House Bill 192 provides that the DMD would plan and manage the country’s migration development agenda, primarily to harness for nation-building Filipino migrants who are coming home with skills and expertise acquired overseas.
“We are pushing for the DMD because it offers a highly practical approach.
Departmentalization will enable government to forcefully address all the concerns of Filipino migrants and their families,” said Bertiz.
He said the DMD would also allow the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to focus on equally pressing domestic issues, such as jobs creation, skills re-tooling, and putting in check rampant violations of general labor standards, including contractualization.
The DMD would also free up the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to concentrate on developing diplomatic relations with foreign governments, Bertiz said.
He said the DMD would entail minimal extra funding since it would merely provide new leadership to, absorb and reposition existing offices as well as their budgets.
On the other hand, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), both currently attached to the DOLE, would be moved to the DMD.
All of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) now under the DOLE would also be conveyed to the DMD. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas now under the Office of the President would likewise be transferred to the new department.
Two offices currently under the DFA – the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs and the Office of the Legal Assistant for Migrant Workers Affairs – would be passed on to the DMD as well.
Bertiz said Foreign Affairs Sec. Alan Peter Cayetano, who filed a bill seeking the creation of the DMD when he was in the Senate, is expected to back up the reorganization.
He said lawmakers are not bothered by Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III’s disapproval of the bill.
“Sec. Bello’s disagreement is understandable. He simply does not want his department emasculated on account of the transfer of a few agencies under him to another department run by another secretary,” Bertiz said.
In the House, besides Bertiz, Representatives Eric Singson (Ilocos Sur), Arthur Yap (Bohol), Carlos Cojuangco (Tarlac), Rose Marie Arenas (Pangasinan) and Michael Romero (1-PACMAN) have also filed separate bills pushing for the new department under various names.
Senate Majority Leader Ralph Recto and Sen. Cynthia Villar have filed separate bills supporting the DMD.