Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday said the newly approved Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Act will ensure ethical recruitment for overseas workers so that the issues related to their recruitment, employment, and deployment are addressed and regulated.
“Kasi ‘pag desperado o maraming economic crisis, maraming mga recruiter na nanloloko din o maraming mga employer din. O kaya, sa mga bansa na medyo hirap sa karapatan ng migrant workers, naaapi talaga. So, I wanted to make sure na yung ethical recruitment, nandiyan sa bagong batas,” Cayetano said in a media interview on January 7, 2022.
(When people are desperate or in an economic crisis, there will be recruiters or employers trying to scam the vulnerable. Or in countries that have troublesome histories with the rights of migrant workers, we see them getting abused. So, I wanted to make sure that ethical recruitment was included in the law.)
Cayetano had filed the bill creating the new department as Senator in 2017, and while that did not make it into law, he filed a similar bill in the House of Representatives in 2019. As Speaker, he led the House in passing the measure in March 2020.
The bill aimed to create a Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment — a single agency that would focus solely on the concerns of Filipino migrants.
When the Senate approved its version on December 14, 2021, the House adopted it the following day in order to bypass the need for a bicameral conference committee meeting and to allow the measure to be transmitted to Malacañang for the President’s signature.
It was finally signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 30, 2021.
“I think una tayo sa buong mundo na ilagay ‘yun sa batas and magkaroon ng departamento [para sa Migrant Workers],” Cayetano said in his media interview.
(I think we are the first in the world to put this into law and create a department for migrant workers.)
“At the heart of this bill is ethical recruitment,” he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) are to continue their mandate of looking after the rights of migrant workers during the transitory period and prevent any untoward action or exploitation.
At the same time, Cayetano warned Filipinos to be wary of overseas job offers that are “too good to be true” so they will not end up being illegally recruited.
Cayetano said the President can already appoint a Secretary to the DMW in the coming weeks but added that it will take time to set up the department itself. The law mandates that the Department must be completed within two years from the effectivity of the Act.
“In a few weeks, pwede na po magappoint yung Presidente ng Secretary na lang, pero yung mismong Departmento, sa 2023 pa or 2024,” he said.
(In a few weeks, the President may appoint the Secretary of the Department. But the actual departmental structure could be in 2023 or even 2024.)
Cayetano had earlier said the manpower for the DMW is already there and all that is needed is a point person for it to finally operate.
“Nandyan naman y’ung mga tao eh – mga taga-POEA, OWWA, USec Sarah Arriola ng OUMWA sa DFA,” he said.
(The manpower is there – people from POEA [Philippine Overseas Employment Administration] OWWA [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration], Undersecretary Sarah Arriola of DFA OUMWA [Department of Foreign Affairs’ Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs].)