SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco has expressed gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte for certifying as urgent a bill creating the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.
In a statement, Velasco said President Duterte’s endorsement is timely because the bill addresses the problems confronting Filipino migrant workers in these trying times and at the same time help them transition when the global economy begins to reopen and return to pre-pandemic level.
The House of Representatives last March approved on third and final reading its own version of the measure, House Bill No. 5832, or the Department of Filipino Overseas (DFO) Act.
“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,” Velasco said.
“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,” he added.
According to Velasco, the onslaught of the pandemic on the economy and the people’s livelihood, particularly on the Filipino workers abroad, has underscored the urgency of creating a department solely for the OFWs.
“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 a slump,” Velasco said.
The Department of Labor and Employment has reported that close to 500,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic. Close to 15,000 more are scheduled for repatriation, while over 70,000 remain stranded across the globe as of October 1, 2020.
For many years, remittances from OFWs provided a steady stream of foreign exchange to the Philippine 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.