MANILA, Philippines — Last December 30, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte signed RA 11641, “An Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers.” This bill penned by Senator Joel Villanueva establishes the Department of Migrant Workers.
After the signing, Duterte delivered a speech honoring OFWs by likening them to Jose Rizal. “The establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers happens on the celebration of Rizal Day, when we honor, not only the exceptional love of country of Dr. Jose Rizal, but also the patriotism, excellence and courage of our modern-day heroes, including our overseas Filipinos.”
The establishment of this new department was one of Duterte’s priorities as he classified it as an urgent bill last March 2021. He also said in his speech, “There is no better way to serve the Filipino people but giving them the honest, efficient and responsive government that they deserve.”
The Department of Migrant Workers will occupy all the functions of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). It will be the executive agency responsible for protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of OFWs. The department is also in charge of implementing regulations and systems that would monitor OFW activity, as well as OFWs’ reintegration into the country.
The creation of this department was praised by Bishop Ruperto Santos, saying that it was a timely Christmas present to migrant workers and seafarers. He said, “It is a work of compassion and care for their welfare.”