By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go renewed his call for the passage of his proposed Senate Bill No. 1949, otherwise known as the Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) Act of 2020, urging fellow lawmakers to unite and throw their support behind the measure.
“Tapos na po ito sa committee hearing, papunta na po tayo sa TWG (technical working group) at committee report na po. Hopefully, before we go on recess ay maipasa na po sana ito at mai-presenta na ito sa plenary for sponsorship dahil matagal na po, long overdue na,” shared Go during an ambush interview right after he attended the launch of the 112th Malasakit Center at the Mariveles Mental Wellness and General Hospital in Mariveles, Bataan.
“It was mentioned by the President (Rodrigo Duterte) in the past two SONAs (State of the Nation Address), so dapat po ay maipasa na po ito. Pasado na po ito sa Lower House at dapat po maipasa na rin sa Senado,” he added.
Go, then, went on to appeal to fellow senators to support the bill, urging them not to deprive overseas Filipinos of the much needed department which would cater to all their needs and concerns.
“That’s why I am appealing sa aking mga colleague na ipasa na po ito dahil kawawa naman ang ating mga kababayan. ‘Wag natin ipagkait sa kanila. Ten million ang overseas Filipinos; that is around 10% ng population natin,” he said.
“Bigyan natin sila ng isang departamento na talagang nakatutok po. ‘Di na nila kailangan magpalabuy-laboy pa at humingi ng tulong sa radyo, TV, o Facebook. Isang departamento ang nakatutok sa kanila para tumugon sa lahat ng pangangailangan ng ating overseas Filipinos,” he added.
SBN 1949 is the third version of the measure Go first filed in July of 2019. The bill creating DOFil is one of the priority measures of the present administration as mentioned numerous times by President Rodrigo Duterte, including in his last two State of the Nation Addresses. The President also certified this most recent version filed by Go as urgent.
The proposed department will be primarily mandated to formulate, recommend, and implement national policies, plans, programs, and guidelines that protect overseas Filipinos, including OFWs, as well as promote their interests and resolve issues concerning them in a timely and effective manner.
The DOFil will be responsible for providing all relevant social and welfare services, including insurance, social work assistance, and legal assistance, as well as administer reintegration and social service programs to overseas Filipinos. It shall also provide Assistance to Nationals services, especially during times of national emergencies, such as pandemic or war.
“Mananatili pong prayoridad ng gobyerno ang mapalago ang ating ekonomiya at makapagbigay ng oportunidad para sa mga Pilipino dito sa bansa upang hindi na nila kakailanganin pang makipagsapalaran sa ibang bansa,” Go said.
“Pero hindi rin natin maikakaila na sampung milyong Pilipino ang nasa abroad, halos ten percent ng ating populasyon,” he lamented.
As of 2019, it is estimated that there are about 10.2 million overseas Filipinos (OFs) around the world, and they are credited for boosting domestic consumption and contributing about 9.3% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and 7.8% of the Gross National Income in the said year.
“Habang sinisikap nating bigyan sila ng mas maraming economic opportunities dito, huwag din natin pabayaan ang karamihan sa kanila na may hinahaharap na iba’t ibang pagsubok sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa. Responsibilidad nating alagaan ang bawat Pilipino kahit nasaan man sila sa mundo,” he added. (AI/MTVN)