It will be easy sailing for the passage of a bill creating a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers in Congress, with the House of  Representatives merely awaiting for the bicameral conference work on the bill said to be endorsed as urgent by President Duterte.

VELASCO1234 - Bill creating Dep’t of Overseas Filipino Workers has backing from House
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (Lord Allan Velasco’s Office / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco assured Duterte of the Lower House’s support to the measure that will address the concerns of millions of OFWs, particularly the estimated 500,000 displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, the Lower House has already passed on third and final reading its version of the bill.

According to Velasco, the Lower Chamber approved House Bill No. 5832 or the Department of Filipinos Overseas (DFO) Act last March.

“Once the Senate passes its own version, we assure President Duterte that the House will act on it in swift fashion so this can be signed into law,” said Velasco.

He added: “This is the campaign promise of the President and we will see to it that it will become a reality. Our modern day heroes need not hurt anymore.”

“The onslaught of the pandemic on the economy and the people’s livelihood, particularly on our Filipino workers abroad, has once again highlighted the urgency of creating a department solely for the needs of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” Velasco said in response to Duterte’s call for swift passage of the DOFW bill.

The House leader noted that since the COVID-19 outbreak, OFWs have been returning to the Philippines “in droves after they lost their jobs.”

He lamented that thousands more are expected to go home as the pandemic triggered a worldwide economic slump.

The Department of Labor and Employment has reported that close to 500,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic. Some 15,000 more are scheduled for repatriation, while over 70,000 remain stranded across the globe, as of October 1, 2020.

Velasco recalled that OFW’s have provided the Philippines a “steady stream of foreign exchange” to boost the national economy.

“In 2019, their money buoyed household income and consumption, pitching 9.8 percent to the gross domestic product and 7.8 percent to the national income,” said Velasco.

“President Duterte’s statement that he will certify as urgent the measure for the creation of the Department of OFWs is very timely in order to address the woes confronting our migrant workers in these difficult times and at the same time help them transition when the global economy begins to reopen and return to pre-pandemic level,” the House leader stated. 

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