Duterte bares creation of OFW department
MANAMA, BAHRAIN — President Rodrigo Duterte announced on Friday his plan to establish a department that will address the needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Speaking before 4,000 Filipinos who gathered at the Khalifa Stadium on the last day of his three-day state visit here, the President spoke of his plan to create a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers to attend to the needs of Filipinos living and working abroad.
“By the way, the OFWs … you will have in a few months a Department on OFWs only,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
He said he had discussed the plan with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who was onstage with other Cabinet secretaries.
But at a news conference hours earlier at the Four Seasons Hotel, Bello expressed his misgivings about putting up an OFW department.
He said establishing such a department would go against the Duterte administration’s bid to provide decent jobs for OFWs to make sure they would return home for good after the completion of their contracts.
He said there were already two agencies mandated by law “to take care of the welfare, especially the protection of our OFWs while they are abroad”—the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
“The President is very conscious of the social implication of our countrymen and countrywomen going abroad to look for jobs, and so he would like to create more jobs in our country so that there will be no necessity for our countrymen to go abroad,” he told reporters.
Putting up an OFW department “might institutionalize the relevance of our OFWs, which goes against the final aim of the government to get them back,” he said.
Bello said the proposal was being studied carefully on orders of the President.
Meanwhile, Bello said he and the labor undersecretary of Bahrain would sign an agreement reducing the processing time for the deployment of Filipinos to Bahrain from six weeks to two weeks.
Mr. Duterte left for Doha, Qatar, after speaking before the Filipino community here, the last leg of his visit to three Gulf states that began in Saudi Arabia.
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