DOFIL to help OFWs succeed in post-pandemic world, says Villanueva

DOFIL to help OFWs succeed in post-pandemic world, says Villanueva

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — The proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFIL) should meet the country’s need of navigating a post-pandemic world that will be very challenging to overseas Filipino workers, Senator Joel Villanueva said today.

“COVID-19 has changed our economic landscape. If local industries are retooling for a post-pandemic era, then a sector which makes up 10% of the economy need to be protected in a changed work,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee,

The labor committee wrapped up public hearings on Monday as he formed a technical working group to iron out the details of the committee report on the DOFIL bill.

“By the time the DOFIL will be in full operation, it will be a changed world. We are not designing tomorrow’s agency on the specs and the needs of yesterday,” he said.

The DOFIL “can help in the transition, provided it is given the right mandate and orientation,” Villanueva pointed out.

“The last thing we need is new bureaucratic accessory. What we should have is an agency that is a toolkit for the future,” Villanueva said.

This is borne out of the fact that “OFWs and the markets they compete in and the host countries they serve” are not immune from the “pandemic’s side effects,” the senator said.

“May impact halimbawa sa shipping. Mayroon pong increase sa demand sa health services, habang bagsak naman ang travel and tourism, which impacts on OFWs in the service sector. Yung cruise ships, grounded. Kaya po sa isang mundong binago ng pandemya, ano dapat ang papel ng DOFIL?” Villanueva said.

One pressing concern is the need for a “new global response system for OFWs” as the coronavirus continues to mutate and spread which could trigger another wave of “displacements of OFWs.”

“New normal na po ba ang ganitong mga disruptions? Dapat kasama po ito sa mga tasks ng DOFIL para matulungan ang ating mga kababayang OFWs,” Villanueva said.

He reiterated his oft-recited mantra in assembling the DOFIL that “we are not gunning for a karatula change na ilalagay lang ang department or lipat-bahay ng mga agencies under one roof.” (AI/MTVN)

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