Senate panel OKs DMW 2024 budget
The Senate Committee on Finance approved the proposed P3.5 billion budget of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) for 2024 on Monday.
During the hearing, Senator Raffy Tulfo suggested that the DMW create a program that would monitor the welfare of the children of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) after he received reports that children were being sexually assaulted by family members while their parents were in other countries.
In response, DMW officer-in-charge Hans Leo Cacdac may require P50 to P100 million per administrative region to run the monitoring program for children.
Cacdac said their action fund covers cover legal, medical, and humanitarian assistance to OFW and is implemented by their Migrant Workers Offices (MWOs).
There are 39 MWOs in 28 countries, 14 of which are in the Asia and Pacific region, 12 in Europe and America; and 13 in the Middle East and Africa, he added.
DMW Undersecretary Maria Antonette Velasco-Alones said they have authorized the hiring of 98 local employees in MWOs abroad for assistance to nationals functions.
Alones said they are hoping that the budget could support 265 more local hires including 140 in the Middle East, 65 in Asia, and 60 in Europe.
“Usually since they are not organic personnel, we pay a premium. We comply with the local labor laws in terms of salaries. Since they do not have benefits, we add the premium payments, including social protection benefits and insurance. That’s programmed for the whole year for the countries we’ve mentioned,” Alones said.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III then questioned why Filipinos could not be deployed in MWOs instead of local workers.
“We really want to deploy organic personnel but we contend with number one, visa allocation to the Philippines. Usually, when we are with other government agencies in the embassy, we are also vying for the visa,” she said.
“Secondly, we have a reciprocity agreement. So depending on the number of foreign personnel the country sends here, we can only deploy the same number of personnel,” she added.
Meanwhile, OFW Hospital officer-in-charge administrator Gerardo Legaspi said they have served over 20,000 patients and is not a ghost town as described by Tulfo in a previous hearing.
Legaspi said they run the outpatient department of the hospital every day except Saturday and have admitted around two to ten patients. Jaspearl Tan/DMS