By Hannah Torregoza
Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III told a Senate panel yesterday that the measure seeking to create a separate agency that would deal with the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWS) will run counter to President Duterte’s dream of repatriating migrant workers back to the Philippines.
During the hearing of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development, Bello said it is the President’s lifelong dream that the country’s overseas workers — especially those in the Middle East — would return to the country, knowing the social implications of migration.
“That is the final objective of the (Duterte) administration. Which is actually, your honor, to repatriate all our overseas workers,” Bello told the Senate labor panel, chaired by Sen. Joel Villanueva.
“Iyon po ang panaginip po ng ating Pangulong Duterte, na kung maari—knowing the social implication of migration—gusto niya na bawiin natin lahat ng ating mga OFWs, (That is the dream of our President Duterte, that as much as possible, knowing the social implication of migration, he wants to retrieve all of our OFWs),” Bello said.
Likewise, he said, the DOLE adheres to the position taken by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and other government agencies “to advocate the policy of rightsizing.”
It was then Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who is now the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary, who filed Senate Bill No. 1435, or the proposed Department of Foreign Employment Act and which is now being discussed by the committee.
Other senators who filed a similar bill were Senators Cynthia Villar, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.
Villanueva agreed saying it was also the dream of other senators for all OFWs to come back home and contribute to nation-building.
“Actually that is what we have been mentioning—that’s the ideal. But unfortunately its been growing—the number of Filipinos going abroad every single day has been growing tremendously,” Villanueva pointed out.
Villanueva said that given the huge percentage of Filipinos going abroad and with over 10 million of them scattered “in just about every country in the world,” the automatic and “most natural and reasonable response” is the creation of a “super body” that would “orchestrate, synchronize and harmonize government’s policy on migrant labor.”