Department of Migrant Workers

More migrant workers offices, jobs abroad: DMW bares plans for 2023

Michelle Abad
More migrant workers offices, jobs abroad: DMW bares plans for 2023

DMW SECRETARY. Migrant Workers Secretary Susan 'Toots' Ople presents the Department of Migrant Workers' accomplishments and plans in a Malacañang briefing on January 10, 2022.

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Migrant Workers Secretary Toots Ople says there are emerging markets for OFWs in Romania, Hungary, and Portugal

MANILA, Philippines – “This will be a very busy year for the DMW (Department of Migrant Workers),” said Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople on Tuesday, January 10, now equipped with the P566-million first quarter allotment of the department’s very first annual budget worth P15.8 billion.

In a Malacañang press briefing on Tuesday, Ople outlined some of the plans the DMW had for 2023. For one, Ople said the “busy year” would be due to the renewal of existing bilateral agreements signed by the Department of Labor and Employment, which would now have the DMW as the Philippines’ signatory.

The government’s newest department plans to establish 16 regional offices, and hire 1,000 new personnel. Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Bangkok, Guam, and two more to-be-determined areas can also expect new Migrant Workers Offices (formerly known as Philippine Overseas Labor Offices or POLOs) in their host countries.

“We’re assessing the needs of our workers and we are looking at employability, foreign employment opportunities, the size of the OFW population, as well as welfare cases in those countries, [and the] vulnerability of our workers in those countries,” said Ople.

Ople said the DMW hopes to deploy more OFWs in 2023, noting that the Philippines fielded 486,673 OFWs from July to November 2022. She reported that there are emerging markets and pending bilateral labor talks with Romania, Hungary, and Portugal.

Portugal is interested in offering jobs to Filipinos for their tourism sector, while Singapore has also raised interest in hiring more Filipino health workers.

Monitoring existing plights

Asked about the status of unpaid claims of thousands of Saudi Arabia-based OFWs, Ople said that the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development requested for more time for the Philippine government’s visit regarding the claims, because this ministry did not call the shots for the release of the claims.

“So, they wanted time for certain arrangements to be made, so that when I go there, I will able to meet with the right person in the Office of the Crown Prince. So, as of yesterday, they promised that they will give us the itinerary and schedule for the Saudi trip within the week,” said Ople.

In November 2022, the Saudi Arabian government agreed to pay the unpaid salaries of around 10,000 OFWs when their construction companies went bankrupt around eight years ago.

The unpaid claims were one of the reasons why the Philippines suspended deployment of OFWs to Saudi Arabia in November 2021. The deployment ban was lifted on November 7, 2022. (READ: Abused, unpaid OFWs in Saudi will have right to pre-terminate contracts)

Ople also said that the department continued to maintain a “tight watch” on online illegal recruitment and trafficking of OFWs to Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers overseas Filipinos, the rights of women and children, and local governments.