Sec Ople thanks Senate for passage of DMWs P16.3B budget; vows judicious use” of funds
Manila, Philippines – Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople vowed full transparency accountability and judicious use of public funds as she thanked the Senate a lot, as the chamber approved in plenary past midnight of Thursday the P16.3 billion budget of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).
“This is a historic day for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and OFW advocates around the world. We thank the Senate for recognizing the need to augment and approve the DMW’s 2023 budget, the department’s first ever and a requirement for its full constitution. We commit to full transparency, accountability, and judicious use of public funds,” Ople said.
This was the first time that the Senate approved a department’s budget on the floor on a Friday, which is a non-working day in the said legislative body.
The department’s 2023 budget will support the programs of the Office of the Secretary that includes setting up 16 DMW Regional Offices and Centers across the country, Overseas Employment Adjudication Offices in the National Capital Region (NCR) and in Regions 3, 4-A, 7, and 11; and expand Migrant Workers Offices (MWOs), formerly known as Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs), in selected overseas locations.
Senate Finance sub-committee Chair Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, who sponsored the department’s budget, said the passage of the DMW’s very first budget will make the department a fully constituted agency of government.
He also noted the qualifications of Ople to lead the new department saying, “likewise this representation believes that no other person is more fit to head the Department of Migrant Workers than Secretary Toots Ople whose name is synonymous already to the laborers.”
For his part, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, one of the principal authors of Republic Act 11641, or the law creating the DMW added, “karangalan po natin ang makita na tumatakbo na ang DMW ayon sa layunin ng batas. We are hopeful the current structure of the DMW will address the concerns of our migrant workers and we commit to help the leadership in any way we can.”
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, meanwhile, explained his support for the DMW budget was a way of giving back to the country’s OFWs for keeping the economy afloat.
“Assuming they contributed an estimated two to four trillion pesos in remittances over the 5-year period from 2017-2021, sure naman ibabalik mo rin ng konti yung malaki ang kinikita. And in this case, it’s not just yung laki ng kinikita it’s also yung pawis at dugo na binibigay ng OFWs natin,” the senator fom Taguig said.
The Senate provided an additional appropriation of P500M for the operationalization of the OFW Hospital in Mabalacat, Pampanga. Ople noted the additional funding allows the OFW Hospital to hire personnel for its 229 regular staff positions, acquire new equipment, and fund its operating expenses.
Other key programs to be funded next year include digital modernization of the DMW’s information and communications technology capability, and capital outlay for the department’s head office, the 16 new regional offices as well as for the National Maritime Polytechnic in Tacloban, Leyte.
Ople said the establishment of the new Regional Offices and Centers as well as Adjudication Offices will bring the DMW and its services closer to OFWs and their families based in the provinces.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of the DMW, received an additional P100M from the Senate that will support the establishment of OWWA regional offices in Mindanao.