Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said legal services to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) must be uninterrupted in the formal turnover of the OFW component of the assistance-to-nationals (ATN) functions to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) starting July 1, 2023.
“The transition should be smooth and seamless so that services to our OFWs, especially those in distress will be continuous,” Villanueva said.
The principal author and sponsor of the DMW Act, Villanueva said the transfer of ATN functions for OFWs is to ensure that help for OFWs is immediate and does not need to compete with the ATN of the DFA for nationals other than OFWs. The DMW will utilize the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan (AKSYON) fund for the purpose while the DFA ATN will be funded separately.
The AKSYON fund, which amounts to Php1.082 billion as of June 22, 2023, is intended for the delivery of various services to OFWs, including legal assistance, welfare, and emergency response to migrant Filipinos in need.
“Noong itinulak po natin ang pagpasa ng DMW Act, siniguro po natin na may nakalaang pondo ang ahensya sa pamamagitan ng AKSYON fund para sa mga pangangailangan ng ating mga OFWs katulad ng legal, medical, repatriation at iba pa,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva expressed optimism that efforts of the DMW are continuous to fine-tune its system and train its officials and personnel to carry out the
“The transfer of assistance functions will allow the DMW to establish itself as the go-to agency of our OFWs,” the senator said.
“Sa ganitong paraan, tunay na pong magkakaroon ng isang bahay ang ating mga OFWs at lalo pa silang mabigyan ng proteksyon, agarang legal na tulong at iba pang ayuda,” Villanueva added.
Meanwhile, the Majority Leader thanked the government of the United Arab Emirates led by its president, Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the pardon of three Filipinos, including two in death row.
Latest government data as of March 2023 showed at least 81 Filipinos abroad are facing cases punishable by death.
“Nagsisimula na po tayong makakita ng magandang resulta sa matibay na pakikipagugnayan ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos sa liderato ng iba’t ibang bansa,” Villanueva said.
“Sa kanila pong pagbibigay ng pardon, mabibigyan ng pagkakataon ang ating mga kakabayan na magbagong buhay. Dalangin po natin na marami pa sa ating mga kababayan ang mailigtas sa parusang kamatayan,” Villanueva added.