Senator hopes next admin gives financial muscle to Department of Migrant Workers

Ensuring that the Department of Migrant Workers will have sufficient funding is the next big step for the incoming administration next year, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, principal sponsor and author of the Senate Bill No. 2234 creating the DMW, explained that one of the first acts of the next administration is to propose the new department’s maiden year budget that will be included in the 2023 national budget.

The chair of the Senate labor committee said the DMW bill, which the Senate passed Tuesday on 3rd and final reading, “is a good blueprint for the new department.” He urged presidential aspirants to study the measure, which the House of Representatives adopted Wednesday and is on its way to the President’s desk for enactment.

“But for it to be able to live up to its promises, it must have financial muscle,” Villanueva said. “Every policy must be matched with pesos. Kung wala pong pondo, walang programang mapapatupad para sa mga kababayan natin.”

Villanueva said the DMW bill boosts services to OFWs in four areas, which, for easy recall, he called the “4Ps.”

“Proteksyon, personnel, pondo, at programa. This is the simple checklist that should serve as our guidepost if we want the DMW to be a success,” the lawmaker said.

There should be greater protection of migrant workers’ rights, he said. “Ito naman po ang pangunahing dahilan kung bakit itatayo at itatatag natin ang DMW. This is the number 1 performance standard,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said the DMW, while maintaining “a small, but smart” organization, seeks to have more civil servants assisting migrant workers. “Hindi yung sa ngayon na kulang talaga ang taong rumeresponde sa SOS ng mga OFWs.”

“The third P is pondo,” he explained. “The DMW will have its own fund, separate from DFA’s, called AKSYON Fund which will provide legal and other forms of assistance to overseas Filipino workers. We should ensure that there would be enough finances for the AKSYON fund.”

The proposed department is likewise expected to have cohesive and responsive programs for OFWs that will address the OFW experience from recruitment to reintegration, Villanueva said.

“It should not be more of the same. But a new department must birth new innovative programs that will respond to a new world altered by the pandemic,” he said.