MANILA - The House of Representatives is bullish that it can meet President Rodrigo Duterte's promise of creating a department to handle matters concerning Filipino migrant workers by December this year.
On Tuesday, the House Committee on Government Reorganization and Overseas Workers Affairs began joint hearings to finalize the creation of the agency.
There are currently 31 proposals for a Department for Overseas Filipino Workers pending with the House, including bills filed by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Duterte's son, Deputy Speaker Paolo Duterte.
To meet the President's promise, Cayetano said he wants to conduct 2 hearings on the bill within October to allow plenary debates in November.
This, he said, could allow Duterte to sign the measure into law by December.
In July, the President promised to establish the department by December, and vowed to place recruitment of migrant workers under government supervision.
A former foreign affairs chief, Cayetano said the House might form a joint technical working group with the Senate to tackle all the issues concerning the establishment of such an agency.
The House Speaker explained that the proposed agency would serve as a one-stop-shop for all the needs of Filipino migrant workers who usually have to go to different government offices.
"There's one department that you will go to, and although they will coordinate with the other agencies, [at] least, isa lang ang masisingil ninyo sa (you only have to find it in the) OFW Department," he said.
House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez also called for the speedy passage of a measure to form the department.
“Nagsalita na rin ang ating Speaker, nagsalita rin ang ating Presidente. Nagkakaisa ang liderato at mga kongresista at Senado. Department of OFW now," he said.
(Our Speaker and our President have spoken. Congressmen and senators are united in this. [Let's create the] Department of OFW now.)