The recruitment sector has expressed its support with the plan of the next administration to establish a separate department to look after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers.
However, industry leaders like Lito Soriano called on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to organize a meeting with stakeholders to settle possible issues that might arise from the creating of the new government branch before putting it into legislation.
“I believe it should be first subjected to a stakeholder consultation to see how it could be more effective than the present setup,” said Soriano. “It should include OFWs, who are already retired and this who are still actively working abroad,” Soriano said. He pointed out that the lack of legal assistance available to Filipino workers abroad remains one of the biggest issues that need to be addressed.
“This sometimes confuses OFWs since they don’t know the government agency they should approach, when faced with cases abroad,” he added.
Soriano cited the need to address the usual contradicting policy thrust of the Department of Labor and Employment, saying it should be more responsible for promoting the welfare of workers in the Philippines and not promoting jobs overseas.
“This could be addressed with a creation a department for migration just like the ones in other countries,” he said.
While group of recruitment agencies, migrant advocate groups like the United OFW Worldwide and Blas F. Ople Policy Center expressed support for the possible creation of a dedicated department for OFWs, DOLE has voiced its reservation for the proposal as early as four years ago, citing a resolution of the National Tripartite Industrial Peace Council.
The NTIPC said the proposed OFW department contradicted the policy of outgoing administration to promote local jobs and make working abroad just an option for Filipinos.
However, BFOPC president Susan Ople clarified the new department will not undermine the government’s stand for overseas employment.