On its third and final reading, Senate approved on Monday, a reforming bill for Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as a national agency. Its fund will now be coming from the national government instead of from the contribution of Filipino workers abroad.
What does the Senate says about the Reforming Bill for OWWA?
Franklin Drilon, Senate President said the structural reforms under the new measure are designed to help OWWA being the principal government agency better fulfill directives in serving Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) together with their families.
Also, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, acting chairman of the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 2955, said the proposed law aims OWWA to reformulate its functions being a national agency, thus giving them the authority to implement programs susceptible to OFW’s as well as their families.
Currently, the OWWA is being classified as a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) and as a national government agency (NGA). Pursuant to the Commission on Audit, OWWA is a GOCC because since 1980, it has been using the collection of its members to maintain its expenses. Whereas, the Department of Budget and Management and the Commission on GOCCs, OWWA is a national government agency because it is assigned by the government to look after OFWs welfare.
With the proposed reforming bill for OWWA, Angara said some people conveys if the Php18-billion budget now under OWWA, will go to the government or will be returned to the OFWs.
What are the measures under the reforming bill for OWWA?
- SBN 2955 proposes to declare OWWA as a national government agency and an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment “vested with a special function of developing and implementing welfare programs and services that respond to the needs of its member-OFWs and their families.”
- The government should, under the bill, provide OWWA’s budget to cover its operating expenses and employees’ salaries, and OWWA employees should also be covered by the Salary Standardization Law.
- It also proposes that OWWA programs should cover other OFWs who are not members of OWWA or undocumented OFWs, and that the reintegration of OFWs will be among the core programs of OWWA
To conclude, Angara added that OWWA Board of Trustees should actually represent the OFW sector. Currently, there are seven representatives from the government sector and only three from the OFW groups. With the reforming bill for OWWA, it is expected to have six representatives from the government and five from the OFW sector