Proposed OFW department will streamline functions, services

THE proposed department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will streamline functions of existing agencies and improve the delivery of services, according to Cabinet Secretary Karlo B. Nograles. Mr. Nograles said the measure creating the Department of Overseas Filipino (DOFil), which has been certified as urgent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte, will not be “totally creating a new agency.” Speaking at a Senate Labor committee hearing on Monday, he said, “Instead it will be an amalgamation of all key offices dealing with migrant, migrant workers protection, into a single entity focused on that mandate… It will avoid overlapping functions, it will consolidate the budgetary allocations to a single public entity for a better and more efficient service to overseas Filipinos and their families.” Apart from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), other existing OFW-related agencies are the Commission on Filipinos Overseas under the Office of the President and the International Labor Affairs Bureau under the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE). “Yung budget po nila (Their budgets) will all be subsumed under the new department,” he said.

National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said they recognize that the new department could come up with “more efficient delivery of services.” NEDA proposed that the department’s mandate include the formulation, planning, and coordination of reintegration and social service programs for returning OFWs. Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, for his part, said his department supports the creation of the DOFil but requested to retain the International Labor Affairs Bureau under DoLE as it provides “technical and administrative advice” to the secretary on labor issues that may affect domestic policies. Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, chair of the labor committee, said the proposed bill addresses red tape, regulation, recruitment, repatriation, and reintegration. “We are duty bound to push for DOFil not to encourage migration but to address the plight of our kababayan abroad especially those coming home because of the pandemic,” he said. The House of Representatives in March last year approved the bill for the creation of the DOFil. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Duterte now willing to get coronavirus vaccine in public


PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has expressed willingness to get vaccinated in public against the coronavirus due to “public clamor,” according to the presidential palace. Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” L. Roque, Jr. said the President will get inoculated publicly after initially announcing his preference to have it done privately. “The President has said ‘Okay, if you want me to and there’s public clamor,’ he said he will,” Mr. Roque said in a televised press briefing Monday. “That decision, of course, recognizes the fact that Filipinos are waiting for a signal on whether or not they should get vaccinated,” he said in mixed English and Filipino. Mr. Roque earlier said the President will get the vaccine shots in private because he wanted to get injected in the buttocks. The spokesman refused to disclose which brand Mr. Duterte will receive, but he said the President is consistent with earlier remarks that he preferred the shots developed by either Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology or China’s Sinovac BioTech Ltd. Government officials, including local chiefs, have been encouraged to get vaccinated in public to help address vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza