The law that establishes the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) goes into force on February 3, 2022, Thursday, according to a high-ranking government official.
“Today, the DMW Act takes effect but then what’s going to happen within the whole year, actually the subsumed agencies will be on a hold-over capacity except that we expect the president to appoint a Secretary or Acting Secretary anytime soon because there are really timelines that have to be met,” said Sarah Lou Arriola, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary during a forum in Blas F. Ople.
On March 5, Arriola said the actual fund should be ready for departmental use.
DMW Rules and Regulations to be Published by April 18
It’s important to note that the IRRs (implementing rules and regulations), on the other hand, should be published by April 18 and the staffing pattern should follow during June 3.
“It is said in the law that (DMW) will only be constituted having, first it has a budget for 2023, it has an IRR, and there is 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 our OFWs (overseas Filipino workers),” Arriola said.
On Dec. 31, 2021, President Duterte signed Republic Act (RA) 11641 or “An Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers” to promote coordination among agencies dealing with OFWs. A new Department of Overseas Workers would be established to address both documented and undocumented OFWs, as well as providing a one-stop shop from pre-employment through reintegration.
The agencies that will be merged into one department includes the following:
- DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA)
- International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)
- National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)
- National Maritime Polytechnic
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
- Office of the Social Welfare Attache (OSWA)
- Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO)
The POLO, which will eventually be the “migrant workers” agency, is accessible in 34 of the 94 Philippine foreign service stations all over the world.
1 Year Transition Period
There will be a one-year gap between the completion of these projects and the transfer of operations to DMW, allowing for no disruption in services.
Arriola added that a technical working group was already in place at the DFA to prepare for the formation of a DMW transition committee.
“All our people will be on hold-over and are willing to assist the new department until they are able to get their groove. They’re only going to have their budget in January 2023 so as of now all the migration agencies are performing their usual functions as we help in the transition,” she said.
During the forum, DepEd Assistant Secretary for Human Resources Juan Antonio Arriola said that only the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and government posts specifically created under RA 8042 will be transferred to DMW.” The rest of assistance-to-national teams and foreign service personnel are going to DFA,”
The DFA will continue to protect the rights and promote the well-being of overseas Filipinos, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. The third pillar of Philippine foreign policy, which is to defend their rights and advance their welfare, will be maintained.
In a recorded statement, the DFA pledged to continue to uphold that pillar diplomatically and in real-world terms. The new department will not be able to fulfill this responsibility, as diplomacy is the DFA’s sole area of authority, and assisting and safeguarding overseas Filipinos is our mission, duty, and honor.