SPEAKER Alan Peter S. Cayetano said he will back dedicated departments for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW), fisheries, and disaster response, filing bills supporting their creation among the first items of legislation he submitted to the 18th Congress.
On the second day of the regular session, Mr. Cayetano filed House Bill (HB) 2 which calls for the creation of Department of Overseas Filipino Workers and Foreign Employment.
Mr. Cayetano, a former senator and Foreign Affairs secretary, filed a similar bill in 2017 hoping to broaden protections for OFWs and their families, which failed to pass.
During his State of the Nation Address, President Rodrigo R. Duterte called for the creation of such a department.
“This Administration’s malasakit at serbisyo (compassion and service) program has, of course, reached the Filipinos who labor in foreign lands…. To ensure their welfare, protection and their access to government services, the establishment of the Department of Overseas Filipinos will sufficiently address this particular need,” Mr. Duterte said.
Mr. Cayetano also filed HB 7 that will establish the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. He also filed a similar bill in the Senate two years ago.
The bill seeks to convert the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources into a government department, detaching the agency from its current parent, the Department of Agriculture.
He also filed HB 4, which establishes the emergency response department. Mr. Cayetano also filed a similar bill in the Senate in 2013.
The bill aims to build a specialized department that will manage humanitarian assistance and disaster response and risk reduction. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras