The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will trim the requirements for the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and address the shortcomings on seafarer education and training, said DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” V. Ople.
“DMW’s mission is to be OFW-centric, putting the worker in the center of the universe of all our operations, services, and programs,” she said at a Sept. 29 joint maritime committee meeting organized by the Dutch Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Nordic Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, and the Philippines Norway Business Council.
The European Union previously said that the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) must properly implement international training standards in compliance with its requirements.
One out of five international seafarers is Filipino. Filipino seafarer officers also account for 12% of the global maritime supply.
DMW is set to present a new set of proposed rules, as well as a shorter list of requirements, for both sea-based and land-based sectors, Ms. Ople said.
DMW, she added, is working on removing evaluations on the part of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
“Whatever the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) submits as verified, [we will accept] … We would be trusting the competence of our POLOs, so redundancy within the POEA will be eliminated. That will result in quicker [turnarounds],” she said.
Publishing a white list and a black list of employers is likewise in the pipeline.
“We do want to recognize the most valued, long-time employers,” she said. “It’s a privilege to be in the business of recruitment and this should not be made open to everyone. … We want to see the best agencies remain active and productive. Those with a long stream of cases, we want to offer our farewell messages to them — with due process.”
For the broader OFW segment, Ms. Ople outlined the department’s delivery menu as follows: a One Repatriation Command Center with the hotline 1348; a digitalization program for land-based and sea-based sectors in cooperation with the Department of Information and Communications Technology; bilateral labor agreements (BLA) with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), Germany, Canada, and Japan for 2022; kids-centered programs to help look after the children of OFWs; a national reintegration program for OFWs; scholarships for children of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration members; an anti-illegal recruitment and trafficking campaign; and an OFW hospital in Mabalacat, Pampanga.
She added that the DMW hopes to be more visible in Europe, specifically in Hungary, Romania, and Austria. The agency is expected to start operations by 2023. — Patricia B. Mirasol