Senator Joel Villanueva today pushed for the creation of a Department of Overseas Filipino (DOFil), a new agency set up to support Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Villanueva stressed that our OFWs have made “immeasurable contribution” to the country’s pride and the nation’s economy, especially during the pandemic.

“One in 10 Filipinos live overseas. Kung nasa isang bansa po ang lahat ng ating mga kababayang overseas Filipino, ito ang magiging ninety-first (91st) most populated sa buong mundo. Mas malaki pa kaysa sa population ng Sweden, Austria, UAE, Israel, o Switzerland ang bilang ng mga Pilipino sa ibayong dagat,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development on the hearing the DOFil bills, said.

Villanueva noted that OFWs which he calls virtually the “world’s human resource provider, from bedside care to artificial intelligence” contributed in 2019 P1.56 trillion in total cash remittances.

This number does not include the money brought home by Filipinos according to the Senator. These facts alone according to Villlanueva are enough justifications to create a whole department mandated to only look after OFWs worldwide.

Senate Bill No. (SB) 1949 which seeks to create DOFil, was filed by Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, is a “result of a series of consultations and meetings among the Executive agencies, specifically those which will be primarily affected by the restructuring that will be occasioned by this measure, held after the filing of the first two versions.”

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte certified the bill as “urgent” and in a letter to Senate President Vicente Sotto III dated Dec. 15.

SB 1949 is the third iteration of a measure Go filed since 2019, stating that the latest version of the bill “represents the unified position of the entire Executive branch of the government and will include agencies which will be affected by the reorganization.”

Under the bill, the new department will be the executive branch’s primary agency “tasked to protect the rights and promote the welfare of overseas Filipinos; formulate, plan, coordinate, promote, administer, and implement policies, and undertake systematic national development programs for managing and monitoring the overseas or foreign employment of Filipino workers while taking into consideration domestic manpower and human resource requirements and the need to protect the right to decent work and fair and ethical recruitment practices.”

Villanueva stressed that “there are Filipinos in every time zone, every continent, and every sea. The sun never sets on the Filipino Diaspora. ” Camille Trinidad