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Two-thirds of DMW budget devoted to worker repatriation

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

SOME 66% of the P15.21-billion 2023 budget for the newly established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has been allocated to the Emergency Repatriation Program run by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said in a statement on Tuesday.

Under the 2023 National Expenditure Program, P10.039 billion is earmarked for the program, which provides “assistance in bringing back distressed OFWs and human remains back to the country.”

Related OWWA services include “providing temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, psycho-social counseling, stress debriefing, and transport services to their respective localities,” the DBM said.

The OWWA, which will receive P11.67 billion, is an arm of the DMW.

Other budget items include P3.5 billion for the Office of the Secretary, of which P2.7 billion or 77% goes to the Overseas Employment and Welfare Program, inclusive of a P1.2 billion allocation for the AKSYON Fund pursuant to Republic Act No. 11641.

“Other programs included in the DMW budget allocation for 2023 are the Overseas Employment Regulatory Program, Labor Migration Policy and International Cooperation Program, Maritime Research and Skills Competency Program, and Provision for OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center under Overseas Employment and Welfare Program among others,” the DBM said.

Former President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11641 on Dec. 30 creating the DMW.

In his first State of the Nation Address last July, President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. outlined the first steps to be taken when the DMW is up and running, including “automat(ing) the verification of contracts and issue (of) secure Overseas Employment Certifications (OEC) that you can keep on your smartphone. I call on the (DMW and the DICT (Department of Information and Communications Technology) to make this a top priority.”

“Tinatawagan ko rin ang Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) na makipagtulungan sa (DMW) na tiyakin ang lahat ng mga diplomatic post ay tutulong na agarang maibalik sa trabaho ang ating mga [OFW’s] na nawalan ng hanapbuhay nitong nakalipas na ilang taon (I also ask the DFA to work with the DMW to ensure that all diplomatic posts help in restoring OFWs that lost their jobs in the last few years to working status.)”

Mr. Marcos also proposed a social media platform and a hotline, to be called One Repatriation Command Center, as well as education opportunities for the children left behind by OFWs. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles

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