SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The onslaught of the pandemic on the economy and the people’s livelihood, particularly on our Filipino workers abroad, has once again highlighted the urgency of creating a department solely for the needs of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen the return of OFWs in droves after they lost their jobs, and thousands more are expected to come home with the global economy in slump.
The Department of Labor and Employment has reported that close to 500,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic. Close to 15,000 more are scheduled for repatriation, while over 70,000 remain stranded across the globe, as of October 1, 2020.
For many years, remittances from our OFWs provided a steady stream of foreign exchange to the Philippine economy. In 2019, their money buoyed household income and consumption, pitching 9.8 percent to the gross domestic product and 7.8 percent to the national income.
President Duterte’s statement that he will certify as urgent the measure for the creation of the Department of OFWs is very timely in order to address the woes confronting our migrant workers in these difficult times and at the same time help them transition when the global economy begins to reopen and return to pre-pandemic level.
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading its own version of the measure, House Bill No. 5832, or the Department of Filipino Overseas (DFO) Act, last March. Once the Senate passes its own version, we assure President Duterte that the House will act on it in swift fashion so this can be signed into law.
This is the campaign promise of the President and we will see to it that it will become a reality. Our modern day heroes need not hurt anymore.