LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday, July 19, admitted that President Rodrigo Duterte’s announcement about creating a Department of OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) caught him by surprise.
Bello said he did not expect the announcement because the Cabinet had opposed the creation of such a department.
"I don't know what happened. I was just beside him and he asked me if I'm okay with the OFW Department. All I could say was 'Mr. President, you are the boss'," Bello recalled.
"It was the position of the Cabinet that there shouldn't be one because, in a way, you are institutionalizing overseas employment, which is contrary to the President's final goal of repatriating our overseas workers," he added.
Last week, Duterte promised to establish a separate executive department to handle matters concerning all OFWs.
Duterte also vowed to rush its creation and have it established by December 2019.
Despite this, the Labor chief assured that they are ready to follow Duterte’s directive to work on the creation of the OFW department.
Along with the Office of the Executive Secretary and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, he said they are already preparing their proposal for the said agency.
"This will be in line with his directive for the creation of a bill that will create a Department of OFWs," Bello said.
The government agencies that currently handle OFW concerns are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). (HDT/SunStar Philippines)