IN addition to the proposed establishment of the Department of Overseas Filipinos, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go assured that the government will continue to push for more economic opportunities for Filipinos domestically so they will not need to leave the country in search of greener pastures.
“Mananatili pong prayoridad ng gobyerno ang mapalago ang ating ekonomiya at makapagbigay ng oportunidad para sa mga Pilipino dito sa bansa upang hindi na nila kakailanganin pang makipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa,” Go said.
Go has echoed this in his previous statements, saying, “Ang gusto natin ay hindi na kailangan mangibang bansa ang mga Pilipino para mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya. Kaya po nakalagay sa ating batas that the State shall continuously aim to make overseas employment as a last resort and not a necessity for every Filipino citizen.”
“Pero hindi rin natin maikakaila na sampung milyong Pilipino ang nasa abroad. Halos ten percent ng ating populasyon,” he lamented.
“Habang sinisikap nating bigyan sila ng mas maraming economic opportunities dito, huwag rin natin pabayaan ang karamihan sa kanila na may hinahaharap na iba’t ibang pagsubok sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Responsibilidad nating alagaan ang bawat Pilipino kahit asan man sila sa mundo,” he added.
As of 2019, it is estimated that there are about 10.2 million overseas Filipinos (OFs) around the world, and they are credited for boosting domestic consumption and contributed about 9.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 7.8% of the Gross National Income in the said year.
While it is ideal to keep Filipinos domestically productive, Go also emphasized that the government cannot just turn a blind eye on the present concerns of overseas Filipinos, which warrants that creation of a department catering to their issues.
“Napakalaking parte ng populasyon natin ang overseas Filipinos, at napakarami nilang suliranin. Hindi po natin sila dapat pabayaan,” he added.
Go also assured that DOFil will be in compliance with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM), in which the Philippines is a signatory. GCM is an intergovernmental agreement under the United Nations which covers “all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner“.
Go said the proposed DOFil will also undergo a mandatory review of its accomplishments ten years into its establishment which will inform members of the Congress on whether there is a need to retain or abolish it by then.
The proposed DOFil will have the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration as its attached agencies. It will also have regional offices and establish concern centers for OFs.
Go, being the author of the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) Act of 2020, or Senate Bill 1949, emphasized that the establishment of the DOFil would also help ‘rightsize’ the bureaucracy by streamlining and rationalizing the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration into one department.
It will also promote streamlined coordination among various officials and offices based abroad through the one country-team approach.
“[It is] about time that we create a Cabinet-level, secretary-led department with an organization structured to work together as one team to protect the rights and advance the interests and welfare of about ten percent of our population who reside abroad,” reasoned the Senator.
Under the new DOFil bill, “all officers, representatives, and personnel of the Philippine government posted abroad regardless of their mother agencies shall, on a per country basis, act as one country-team with a mission under the leadership of the Ambassador or the Consul General.”
“Kung in distress ang isang Pilipino abroad, kadalasan, hindi alam kung saan lalapit para humingi ng tulong. Minsan sa radyo, meron sa Facebook. Pero kung merong one country-team approach tayo, alam ng mga kababayan nating humihingi ng tulong kung saan pupunta. Hindi na sila mahihirapan pa,” he said.