President Rodrigo Duterte promised a separate department that would focus on the concerns of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) a day after he said that the creation of such agency requires the action of Congress.
“In a few months, you will have a department on OFW only,” the president told members of the Filipino community in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama on Friday.
At present, the Department of Labor and Employment handles issues related to OFWs. Before assuming office, Duterte vowed to create a separate department that would promote the welfare and address the concerns of the more than 2.4 million Filipino migrant workers worldwide.
Some Filipinos asked Duterte about the OFW department during their meeting with the president in Riyadh last Thursday. Duterte responded by saying that Congress has to pass a law creating such agency.
“The OFW (department) will be separate from the Department of Labor. It’s coming, but it would be in Congress... There will be a separate (agency for) sailors. Maritime authority will also be separated,” the president told about 2,000 Filipinos on Riyadh.
“The creation of a department does not belong to me,” he added.
Pending the creation of an OFW department, Duterte said he wants Filipino migrant workers to relay their concerns to him.
“I want you to have direct line with me, if not you can call any relative to call my attention,” he said in a speech delivered in Bahrain last Friday.
Duterte stressed that he would not tolerate any form of corruption or oppression under his watch.
“I do not like abuses. I do not like corruption. I do not want oppression and we will be treated equally,” the president said.
He also reiterated his call for Filipinos to be assertive and to resist any attempt to extort money from them.
“If they open your luggage, tell them ‘Do not do that, I will slap you. Why will you open that?’” Duterte said.
“You create a scene because that will reach me,” he added.
Duterte also advised Filipinos to apply for overseas work online and to avoid “fly-by-night” recruitment agencies. He also vowed to ensure that the processing time of migrant workers’ papers would be reduced from six weeks to three weeks.
Duterte is in a three-country trip to the Middle East to strengthen diplomatic ties, lure investors and to interact with Filipino migrant workers, whose dollar remittances are keeping the Philippine economy afloat.
The president visited Saudi Arabia from April 12 to 14 and Bahrain from April 14 to 16.
In Manama, Duterte and Bahrain King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa witnessed the signing of four bilateral agreements.
The agreements signed by the two countries were the memorandum of understanding on the establishment of a High Joint Commission for bilateral cooperation; the memorandum of understanding between Bahrain’s Diplomatic Institute and Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines; the protocol amending the convention between the two countries for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income and on capital; and the protocol to amend and supplement the air services agreement between Bahrain and the Philippines.
Duterte arrived here in Doha on Friday at 8:50 p.m. (1:50 a.m. Philippine time) for a three-day visit
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SOURCE: YOUTUBE, PHILSTAR