SEVERAL Senate committees on Tuesday approved a measure that will create a department that will address concerns of migrant and overseas Filipino workers.

Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, chair of the labor committee, endorsed to the plenary Senate Bill No. 2234 or the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act.

Other committees that approved the measure were foreign relations, civil service, government reorganization and professional regulation, and finance.

Under the bill, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will be constituted as the new department. Seven other agencies will be merged and transferred to the department.

Mr. Villanueva, in his sponsorship speech, said the creation of the new department “does not mean a shift to embracing labor export as a policy but plainly a shift to improve collaborative governance.”

The new department will have an estimated budget of around P1.1 billion, “consistent” with the Department of Budget and Management’s recommendations.

The House of Representatives approved in March 2020 the counterpart House Bill No. 5832.

The bill for the creation of a department for overseas Filipinos was identified by the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council as a priority measure targeted to be passed by Dec. 2021. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas