By Ernie Reyes
As he expressed gratitude over the successful repatriation of Malik Darimbang, an overseas Filipino worker who was stuck in Saudi Arabia for six years due to a legal battle, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday, December 18, met with Darimbang and renewed his push for the passage of his priority bill creating the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil).
“Masaya ako na makakapiling na niya ang kanyang pamilya ngayong Pasko dahil sa suporta ng iba’t ibang ahensya at pribadong indibidwal na kusang tumulong sa ating kababayan,” he said.
“Pero sana, magkaroon tayo ng mas maayos na mekanismo para dinggin at rumesponde sa iba pang mga Pilipino na may hinaharap na problema abroad. Tungkulin nating protektahan at alagaan sila kahit nasaan man sila sa mundo,” he stressed.
Go emphasized that the establishment of DOFil will strengthen government mechanisms in response to various crises being faced by distressed OFWs and further protect the rights of all overseas Filipinos, such as Darimbang.
During an ambush interview right after the launching of the 96th Malasakit Center in Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, Go narrated his role in the successful repatriation of Darimbang.
“Alam n’yo po, nanawagan sa akin (siya), mga ilang buwan na ang nakararaan. Eh kailangan n’ya po ng danyos para po mapawalang-sala siya at makauwi dito,” Go said.
A Marawi City native, Darimbang figured in a vehicular accident in February of 2014 which led to the death of a Pakistani national.
In September 2020, his family was able to seek assistance from Go. The Senator gave his commitment then to spearhead a whole-of-nation effort to help the distressed OFW by coordinating with all concerned agencies and finding a private donor who is willing to pay for Malik’s needed blood money.
“Finally po, after ten years, makakapiling na po niya ang kaniyang pamilya. Sabi ko, ‘wag kayong magpasalamat sa amin dahil ako nangako po ako sa mga kapatid kong Muslim sa abot po ng aking makakaya ay tutulong po ako sa kanila,” Go said during the interview.
Go personally met with Darimbang on Friday at the said hospital before attending the launch of a Malasakit Center there.
In the interview, Go explained how the creation of the DOFil can protect the rights of overseas Filipino in distress, such as Darimbang. He also lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for certifying the measure as urgent.
“Maraming salamat kay Pangulong Duterte sa pag-certify po sa Department of Overseas Filipinos (bill). Long overdue na po ito, more than ten million Filipinos (ang nasa abroad) na meron tayo, that’s almost ten percent of the whole population po,” Go said.
“Bagong bayani natin sila, huwag nating ipagkait na bigyan sila ng isang departamento na tututok po sa kanila para hindi na kailangan nilang manawagan sa radyo, sa telebisyon, sa Facebook para lang po humingi ng tulong,” he added.
Senate Bill No. 1949, also known as the “Department of Overseas Filipinos Act of 2020,” defines the powers and functions of the DOFil, as it aims to streamline and rationalize the organization and functions of government agencies related to overseas employment and migration.
Go said that the new version of the proposal “represents the unified position of the entire Executive branch of the government” and is intended to “enable the proposed Department to address the most crucial problems, deliver the most important services, and ultimately achieve its goals.”
“The ultimate goal of which is to make such services more accessible and the delivery thereof more responsive,” Go further stated.
The new version transfers back to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission over monetary claims arising out of an employer-employee relationship or by virtue of any law or contract involving overseas deployment or employment of Filipino workers. This includes claims for actual, moral, exemplary, and other forms of damages.
Aside from these additions, the new DOFil bill improves the provision on the One Country-Team approach where all officers, representatives, and personnel of the Philippine government posted abroad, regardless of their mother agencies shall, on a per country basis, act as one country-team with a mission under the leadership of the Ambassador or the Consul General.
“Mas maisasaayos ang mga programa at serbisyo ng gobyerno para matulungan ang mga apektadong Pilipino kung mayroong sariling departamento na mamamahala sa mga pangangailangan ng mga OFWs at iba pa nating kababayan abroad,” he said. (FC/MTVN)