The Senate Committee on Finance on Monday approved the proposed P15 billion budget of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) for fiscal year 2024.
The DMW had proposed a P15.542 billion budget under the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
The bulk – P11.9 billion – was allocated to its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), while the remaining P3.5 billion would go to the Office of the Secretary.
During the deliberations, Senator Raffy Tulfo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, suggested the agency establish a program that would regularly monitor the well-being and security of the children left by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Philippines.
“To ensure that they are safe, it would be like a monitoring system involved ang barangay, MSWD (Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development), women and children’s desk ng PNP (Philippine National Police). Of course, that will be spearheaded by the DMW and the OWWA,” he said.
Tulfo said that the program should have a hotline through which children could reach out in case they feel that they are in danger.
“Full force ‘yung mga awtoridad na puntahan para i-rescue ang bata o saklolohan. On a regular basis, merong magche-check, titignan ang tinitirhan ng bata, kung sino ang may kustodiya sa bata,” he added.
(The authorities will be in full force to go and rescue or help the child. Regularly, someone will also check to see where the child lives, and who has custody of the child.)
The lawmaker lamented that in most cases, it is the relatives of the OFW’s children who mistreat them.
“Kung meron lang sana ganitong klaseng programa na sinasabi ko, then mape-preempt ‘yun kasi mamo-monitor kaagad ng mga bumibista na awtoridad na there’s something wrong,” Tulfo said.
(If there is this kind of program, then the abuse of children would be preempted because the investigating authorities would immediately monitor that there’s something wrong.)
“Kapag nabalitaan o na-monitor ng awtoridad na ito ay walang trabaho at lasinggero, then pull out na agad ang kustodiya at transfer sa biological lola sa mother side,” he added.
(When the authorities monitor that the guardian is unemployed and drunk, then custody is immediately withdrawn, and the child is transferred to the biological grandmother on the mother’s side.)
DMW officer-in-charge Hans Cacdac welcomed the proposal, saying that the program would need about P100 to P500 million per administrative region. — DVM, GMA Integrated News