President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday signed into law a measure that aims to improve coordination among agencies concerned with overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and OFW affairs.
In a ceremony at the Rizal Hall in Malacañan Palace, Duterte signed Republic Act 11641 also known as “An Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers”.
Duterte likened OFWs to the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, for being the lifeline of the Philippine economy.
“The establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers happens on the celebration of Rizal Day. May we honor not only the exceptional love for country of Dr. Jose Rizal, but also the patriotism, excellence, courage of our modern-day heroes including our overseas Filipinos,” he said in his speech.
The creation and establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers is one of Duterte’s priorities after he certified it as an urgent bill in March.
Duterte has repeatedly pushed for the passage of a bill mandating the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers, even mentioning it in his final State-of-the-Nation Address on July 26 this year.
“I also ask Congress to pass a law creating the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos kailangan po ito (we need this) because they are suffering not on — they suffered not only yesterday but they are still suffering now with so many inadequacies, in both our government response including the monetary assistance — to ensure that there is a department that is solely focused on addressing the needs and taking care of the welfare of our countrymen abroad,” he said.
The Department of Migrant Workers is expected to benefit an estimated 2.2 million Filipinos abroad, based on the 2019 Survey on Overseas Filipinos released in 2020 by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
In the same event, Duterte also signed into law the PHP5.024 trillion national budget for 2022, which will be used for the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response and recovery operations after the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.
He previously signed RA 11640 entitled, “An Act Extending the Availability of the 2021 Appropriations to December 31, 2022, Amending for the Purpose Section 62 of the General Provisions of Republic Act 11518, the General Appropriations Act of Fiscal Year 2021”.