THE return of more than half-a-million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust out front the need to set up a new department to take care of these modern-day heroes.
What Congress should do now, we think, is to fast-track the approval of the proposed law seeking to create the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers now pending consideration in the Senate.
In the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco supports the swift passage of the measure. In fact, the congressmen have approved on third and final reading House Bill 5832.
Velasco said the onslaught of the pandemic has highlighted the need for the immediate establishment of the proposed department.
“Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we have seen the return of OFWs in droves after they lost their jobs, and thousands more are expected to come home with the global economy in slump,” he said.
Set to be certified as an urgent measure by President Rodrigo Duterte, the proposed legislation has drawn the support of various sectors of society, particularly families of our migrant workers.
Of course, the public is made to believe that the top leadership of the 24-member Upper Chamber of Congress, headed by Senate President Vicente “Tito” C. Sotto III, is in a position to do this.
In fact, the Senate leadership has established a reputation as a well-oiled machinery capable of speeding up the crafting and passage of landmark pieces of legislation, according to observers.
Thus, for the benefit of our army of migrant workers, many of them health professionals, Congress ought to now set up the proposed Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.
It’s one way of ensuring the health, safety and welfare of OFWs, whose dollar remittances continue to prop up the struggling domestic economy, and their loved ones in the country.