Oliver Bugarin 4 0 0 4 min to read

House adjourns discussion of the P3.5-B proposed 2023 budget by DMW.

Late Thursday, the House of Representatives plenary debates on sponsoring the Department of Migrant Workers’ (DMW) newly minted PHP3.5 billion budget request ended.

After Rep. Arlene Brosas of the Gabriela party list and the House Assistant Minority Leader intervened, the meeting ended.

What initiatives does the government take to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Saudi Arabia who recently lost their jobs due to the Middle Eastern country’s economic crisis? Brosas enquired.

One of the concerns of the OFWs, according to Brosas, was the status of their pending claims for unpaid salaries and benefits, separation money, and contract violations.

Rep. David Suarez of Quezon’s 2nd District, deputy chair of the Committee on Appropriations and sponsor of the DMW budget proposal, answered that Brosas’s concern was why the government had halted sending OFWs to the kingdom.

According to Suarez, Susan Ople, secretary of the DMW, has committed to personally address the issue to ensure that subsequent incidences won’t occur.

The Philippine and Saudi governments and Ople have agreed to a new deal to give OFWs better protections.

“The legal cluster is now working on the resolution of cases and claims of OFWs who are yet to receive their pay,” Suarez said. “Ang lupon ng legal ay nakatutok na upang tugunan ang mga kaso at claim ng mga stil nababayarang mga OFWs.”

“Some of these have previously been resolved. We can provide you with a thorough report on our OFWs’ specific situations in Saudi Arabia. Fortunately, many of them have already received payment, he continued.

The Overseas Employment Program, with a PHP2.7 billion allocation, the Overseas Employment Regulatory Program, with a PHP155.2 million budget, the Labor Migration Policy, and International Cooperation Program, with a PHP32.3 million budget, and the Maritime Research and Skills Competency Programs, with a PHP76.8 million budget, are all included in the proposed DMW 2023 budget.

The budget would assure uninterrupted services for OFWs, according to a statement from Ople, who also commended Congress for the quick decision.

Ople, who is a member of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s official delegation to New York, said, “The DMW’s 2023 appropriation allows it to provide effective and efficient services to its primary client group, the country’s OFWs, ensuring a vigorous regulation and enforcement regime as well as sustaining capacity development and empowerment of migrant workers.”

In addition, she said, “the proposed budget enables the department to explore fruitful relationships and connections with a broad spectrum of public, commercial, and multilateral stakeholders and expand its service menu to include e-governance and digitization.”

To ensure that returning OFWs succeed in their post-overseas work journey and continue to play their role as architects of the nation’s economic development, the DMW will establish a nationwide reintegration program, according to Ople.

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