A BILL that seeks to create a Department of Migrant Workers skipped the bicameral conference committee after congressmen adopted the Senate version on Wednesday. 

The House of Representatives adopted Senate Bill 2234 as amendments to House Bill 5832, allowing for the measure to be sent to the presidential palace for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s signature. 

Under the measure, the agency will absorb the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and will be tasked to protect the rights of migrant workers. 

The department will create and enforce policies while regulating overseas employment and the reintegration of Filipino workers. 

The measure also creates offices in Philippine embassies around the world within three years that will absorb the existing powers of the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices and Office of the Social Welfare Attaché. 

Mr. Duterte has certified the measure as urgent. 

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said he had opposed the adoption of the Senate measure because it won’t solve the problems of migrant Filipino workers. 

“We are sending the message that instead of overseas employment as a stop-gap measure, by establishing a department, we are essentially saying that the ‘labor export policy’ is now a long-term program,” he said in a speech. — Russell Louis C. Ku