DMW to take over DFA’s ATN program in June

Manila, Philippines – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will officially be taking over the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)’ Assistance to Nationals (ATN) program beginning June 2023, DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said.

The ATN program gives support to Filipinos in distress all over the world.

Ople said the transition, originally set for this month, has been postponed for a few months to allow time for proper training and thorough review of sensitive cases.

“We both agreed to extend that to end of June (2023) kasi our people need proper training pa from the DFA. Second, we also need time to study all these cases lalo na yung very sensitive ones involving death row,”Ople told GMA Integrated News in an interview.

“So there’s a technical working group between the DFA and the DMW para lang tignan yung shift ng ATN ng DFA to DMW.”

DFA officials said at least 83 Filipino nationals are currently on death row in different countries for various offenses. The officials shared this information with the House overseas workers affairs committee last week.

Most of them had drug related or robbery cases.

Senator Joel Villanueva seeks to inquire about the lack of acquittals among the 83 Filipinos on death row in many countries. He also questioned whether all legal assistance had been exhausted.

Ople announced that the DMW is carefully reviewing the 83 cases of Filipinos on death row. She hopes to aid these individuals to the full extent of the law in the host country.

With this transfer of responsibility to the DMW, it is expected that the number of ATN cases may increase.
But Ople reassures that the team is studying ways to improve support staff and address any challenges that may arise.

“Ang challenge madaragdagan ng ATN cases pero ang tao pa rin inaaral kung paano madaragdagan ang support staff,” she said.

The DMW Chief also shared that the use of the action fund has been approved to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been hospitalized for a long time in various parts of the world.

“I approved the use of the action fund to bring home those who are still in the hospital and cannot afford to return home. Some of them are sick, and their families cannot afford their medical bills. Others have terminal illnesses. On a humanitarian level, we are doing our best through the cluster of action fund to help,” she said.

The ATN program includes a wide range of assistance to Filipino nationals such as providing temporary travel documents, helping in social welfare and medical-related cases as well as criminal and immigration-related issues, finding the whereabouts of missing Filipinos, and supporting those facing court cases.