The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) of the Philippines was created in order to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers overseas. The department is responsible for providing assistance to overseas Filipinos, as well as ensuring that their rights are protected. It aims to unify a number of services and programs from various offices catering to OFWs abroad. Hence, this was also referred to as the “Department of OFWs”
One of the main functions of the Department of Migrant Workers is to provide assistance to migrant workers who have been exploited or abused. The department helps these workers by providing them with shelter, food, medical care, and legal assistance. The department also assists migrant workers who have been deported from other countries.
The following agencies will also be merged and transferred to the new department: Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) currently under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) is currently under DOLE, Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) currently under the Office of the President, National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) currently under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), International Social Services Office (ISSO) currently under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) is currently under DOLE, and all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO).
In 2016, the newly appointed president of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte said this lines, “I propose to create one government [agency] only to take care of the OFW. Lahat ng kailangan ng permit, diyan nila kukunin sa administrasyon na ‘yan (All the permits they need, they will get it from that agency). It’s going to be a department to take care of them,” he said.
Fast forward to 2021, a Republic Act (RA) 11641 was signed by President Duterte that will serve as an act cresting the “Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). The main goal of this act was to improve the coordination among agencies that are involved in taking care of OFWs’ needs.
Despite having government agencies assigned to protect and focus on the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers, lapses in their function can still happen. This is because some of the agencies are under different departments that aren’t really focused on the welfare of OFWs. This is where the idea of the president came from – to build a department that will mandate and handle all the other agencies involving OFW’s welfare.
Migrant Workers Office Act (OFW Department)
The Act for the Department of Migrant Worker already took effect last February 2022 and the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) should be issued on April 18, with the staffing pattern following on June 3. President Rodrigo Duterte nominated his adviser, Abdullah Mama-o, as secretary of the newly established Department of Migrant Workers.
It is stated in the law that (DMW) will only be formed if it has a budget for 2023, an IRR, and a staffing pattern. Technically, it would really depend on the political will of the next president and how the next administration will value migration and OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers).”
What will happen to the agencies assigned for OFWs that are currently functioning under different government departments? Well, the other agencies’ activities, which are currently under many government departments and handle various OFW concerns, would be combined and transferred to the new department DMW.
OWWA The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, an agency that protects the interests of Overseas Filipino Workers and their families, providing social security, employment support, cultural service, remittances, and legal matters will be absorbed by the new Department of Migrant Workers.
This new department would be in charge of regulating OFW recruitment process, employment & deployment, as well as taking legal actions like conducting investigations and filing cases because of human trafficking illegal recruitment of OFWs.
What is the Migrant Workers Office purpose?
The Department of Migrant Workers will start by absorbing office and agencies Absorbed offices and agencies involved with OFWs’ welfare. The functions and mandate of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will go to the DMW.
Based on its written bill, the role of this new department will be the following:
- Formulate Solutions
- Implement Policies
Undertake Systems for OFWs by:
All of these will be done by taking into consideration the national development programs formulated by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). It shall also encourage the empowerment and protection of Filipinos working abroad by empowering and training them to achieve suitable skills and ensuring access to continual training and knowledge growth.
The new department combines all relevant government entities into a single location to make it easier for migrant workers to get documentation and seek assistance from the government. The new law mandated by the president will rename the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration the Department of Migrant Workers, responsible for overseeing all programs aimed at preserving the welfare of OFWs.
Philippine Agencies to be Merged into the DMW Office
The following agencies will also be merged and transferred to the new department:
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) currently under the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
- International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) is currently under DOLE
- Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) currently under the Office of the President
- National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) currently under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)
- International Social Services Office (ISSO) currently under the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD
- National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP) is currently under DOLE
- All Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) are currently under the DOLE
The functions of the agencies listed above which are currently under multiple departments that handle various OFW matters will be combined and transferred to the new department DMW.
The pursuance of the Republic Act (RA) 11641 will also create a Management Information System that will act as registration for all OFWs. The said act will also establish a 24-hour Emergency Response and Action Center Unit and a media and social media monitoring center to respond to OFWs’ emergency needs.
Everyone is aware of the different challenges and dangers being faced by OFWs around the globe, and most of the time our Kababayans don’t know how to raise their concerns and call for help.
Another hindrance is when a department assigned to this kind of matter is not reachable 24/7. So the idea of creating a response team for this kind of situation is really an essential and smart move for the Philippine Government.
Furthermore, it also creates the Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan (AKSYON) Fund, which will be used to aid OFWs with legal and other assistance. The AKSYON Fund will be another support from the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Assistance to Nationals Fund and Legal Assistance Fund.
The Department of Migrant workers will serve as the head unit of all the agencies involved in OFW’s welfare and protection. But both the government and OFWs will benefit from this.
Imagine how it can lessen the time if all the agencies can coordinate fast and efficiently because they have a head department that will mandate and help them organize all the programs, policies, and concerns of OFWs around the world. Well, this will all be possible if the next president will continue this project by 2022 or 2023.
The new Department of Migrant Workers will combine all relevant government entities into a single location to make it easier for migrant workers to get documentation and seek assistance from the government.
The new law mandated by the president will rename the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration the Department of Migrant Workers, responsible for overseeing all programs aimed at preserving the welfare of OFWs.