Duterte says department for OFWs to come 'in a few months'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday, April 14, that a department focusing on the plight and welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) will come "in a few months."

Speaking to the Filipino community in Manama during his state visit to Bahrain, Duterte said, "[The] overseas [department], meron na kayo (you will have it) in a few months, you will have a Department on OFW only."

The department for OFWs is among Duterte's proposals during the 2016 election campaign.

However, the measures filed in Congress to create the proposed department remain pending at the committee level, according to the House of Representatives website.

At least 7 bills have been filed in the House to establish a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers.

In November 2016, two House committees approved the creation of a technical working group to consolidate these proposals.

Meanwhile, at least two measures have been filed seeking to create a Department of Migration and Development. Senator Cynthia Villar filed a counterpart bill in the Senate.

Stopping corruption

Duterte also told the OFWs in Bahrain that they have the power to stop corruption.

"Pag ka may hiningian kayo at hindi karapat-dapat, kay ma-Custom, BIR, Immigration, sabihin na lang ninyo, 'Loko-loko ka, bakit ako magbayad? Huwag mo ako lokohin as a Filipino. Kay sabi ni Duterte, sasampalin kita,'" he said.

(If somebody asks you to pay something that's not proper, be it at the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue or Bureau of Immigration, you just say, 'Why would I pay? Don't fool me as a Filipino. Because Duterte says, I will slap you.')

"Ang OFW kasi, alam ko gusto ninyong mahinto na talaga 'yung corruption. Para aangat ang bayan natin. (I know that you OFWs really want corruption to stop. So that our country could progress.) And maybe the next generation can really come home," he added.

Duterte garnered huge support from OFWs in the 2016 elections. He won the overseas absentee vote by a landslide. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com