Two Filipino migration specialists oppose Duterte’s proposed DOFil

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Two Philippine migration specialists with vast experience on both domestic and international labour governance as well as an official of two organisations into the promotion for the protection of the rights and welfare of overseas/returning Filipinos have opposed the proposed Department of Overseas Filipinos (DOFil) by the Duterte Administration.

Recently retired International Organisation Migration (IOM)-Mission with Regional Function (Manila)-Labour Migration specialist Ricardo Casco had 40 years of orientation and expertise at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration as he regularly trained Foreign Service Institute career diplomats and assessed eligibility processes of career service officers, including tenures with International Labour Organisation (ILO). He was the main guest at the Friday afternoon “Discussion on DOFil” Zoom webinar organised by the Rights Corridor. Rights Corridor is a regional migration and human rights platform.

The two attendees on the same page as Casco were former ILO (Asia-Pacific) deputy director Thetis Mangahas and Development Action for Women Network (Dawn)/Philippine Migrant Rights Watch (PMRW) president Carmelita Nuqui. Dawn is a non-government organisation/non-profit organisation working for/with distressed women in Japan and Japanese-Filipino children. PMRW is a civil society network for the recognition, protection and fulfillment of migrants rights and welfare.

The webinar took place after the Office of Senator Emmanuel Joel Jose Villanueva hosted the April 22 (Thursday) Zoom “Public Consultation with Overseas Filipinos (OFs)” wherein a huge number of the 800 participants across Asia, Australia, the Americas and the Carribean as well as Europe also opposed the 2016 election mandate of Duterte. The Gulf participants then stressed that DOFil would only be a cash cow if not handled by experienced OFs who know how is it to contractual workers.

Nuqui said DOFil as an envisioned one-stop shop of all existing institutionalised Department of Labour and Employment-affiliated agencies relative to overseas deployment is synonymous to “chopsuey” (quickly- cooked Filipino-Chinese vegetables/chicken/meat dish) wherein nepotism may occur as it is a new government agency and politicians may just lobby positions for families, friends and colleagues. Saying that Dawn and PMRW were among the early oppositors, Nuqui recalled that even the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Budget and Department of Finance were lukewarm on the idea as one of the serious concerns was the funding.

Casco reiterated what the huge number of the 800 April 22 webinar participants led by Qatar-based Ressie Fos, declared. Fos  described DOFil as “irrelevant.” Like the OFs and saying that the creation of DOFil may create confusion to the 200 OF destination countries, Casco pointed out that as it has been in his 40 years of being a public servant including his stints with ILO and IOM, Philippine government officials and foreign service staff in their respective host countries are doing all they can and performing well for the protection and welfare of their countrymen.

He said diplomatic and consular missions with the Philippine Overseas Labour Offices (POLOs) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) already exist and officials including their staff are constantly on their feet. He pointed out that based on research studies and feedback from international organisations as well as labour-sending/receiving states, the Philippines has established globally recognised migration policies and structures.

Casco stressed that what the Executive-Legislative-Judiciary branches of the Philippine Government must do is overhaul its Labour Code, the content of which dates back “to my high school days and I am already retired.”

He stressed that though the Philippines has been internationally recognised for its migration policies and structures, all stakeholders must continually undergo the necessary training and workshops as digitalisation of all services must be a priority. He said politicians must stop taking advantage of the real and alleged sob stories of the OFs. He added that the Philippine media must also avoid sensationalising these.

Mangahas said government must address decades-long unresolved and unfulfilled promises by previous Philippine presidents/legislators/policy makers in connection to recruitment fees, human trafficking and illegal migration, among other challenges. The same views were expressed by at the April 22 webinar-consultation. (Source: Gulf Today)

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