Manual aims to streamline gov't services for OFWs
MANILA, Philippines – A common complaint among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families is that government services they require are spread across too many agencies. This can be inconvenient and confusing for workers needing information.
The government hopes to end this confusion soon, after heads of government agencies serving OFWs signed a document that aims to streamline these various services.
The Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Overseas, signed Tuesday, August 18, outlines the roles and responsibilities of their respective agencies and overseas offices to “effect a cohesive, seamless, efficient, and effective delivery of government services to overseas Filipinos, particulary those who are in distress,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement.
The document was 2 years in the making, under the directive of President Benigno Aquino III to transform Philippine diplomatic missions abroad into Centers of Care and Excellence for Overseas Filipinos.
The Joint Manual, which has obtained the endorsement and approval of the House of Representatives through the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, is comprehensive in its breadth and depth, and covers almost every conceivable situation migrant Filipinos may find themselves in while abroad.
It provides clear and concise step-by-step processes, lines of accountabilities, modes of reporting and coordination, and even specific timelines and sharing of resources and obligations.
“We are glad that we are part of this initiative showcasing convergence of government services and resources for the protection of migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas. Ensuring the psycho-social well-being of our countrymen abroad is vital to ensure that they are capable of meeting the challenges of working or living in a foreign land,” DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman said.
The agencies involved in this initiative include the DFA; the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE); Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD); Department of Helath (DOH); Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA); and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The ceremonial signing was held at the Labor Governance and Learning Center of the Blas F. Ople Hall at the DOLE Executive Building in Intramuros.
“The challenge that lies before us now is to implement this Joint Manual with utmost consistency, efficiency, and professionalism. I am confident of the success of this Joint Manual as everyone here has the interests of our overseas Filipinos at heart. It will enhance the Philippines’ reputation as a model for migration governance. It is proof-positive of our collective commitment for our overseas Filipinos,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said.
“The issuance of this Joint Manual is another important milestone in our continuing pursuit of program and service improvement for our overseas Filipinos,” said Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said.
"We expect that this Joint manual would lead us toward this direction and bring about a higher caliber of government service and program delivery to those Filipino migrants in need of government assistance,” she explained.
On the DOH’s part, Health Secretary Jeanette Garin said: “We, in the Department of Health, believe that there can be no 'Kalusugan Pangkalahatan (universal health),' if migrant workers and other Filipino overseas are excluded or left behind.
“Addressing migrant health needs a collective effort, not just from the DOH, but from sectors involved in migration. Thus, this Joint Manual is an affirmation of the DOH’s position on taking the whole of government and whole of society approach in promoting the health of our migrants and overseas Filipinos, including their families,” she concluded.
Civil society organizations and non-government organizations, like the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute, Center for Migrants Advocacy, Global Filipino Movement Foundation Inc., and the OFW Family Club of the HCOWA, also gave inputs of the manual’s draft.
The Joint Manual immediately takes effect upon its signing. The DFA said that it should be jointly reviewed and revised every 3 years. – Rappler.com