Hearing on creation of OFW dep’t deferred

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    THE Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development yesterday deferred a hearing on the proposed creation of the Department of Overseas Filipinos until the Senate tackles Senate Bill 244 or the Rightsizing the National Government Act that will address the issue of a bloated democracy.

    Sen. Joel Villanueva, committee chair, heeded the request of Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon who said that creating a new department runs counter with President Duterte’s pronouncement of rightsizing the bureaucracy. Drilon’s motion was then referred to the committee on rules.

    In his manifestation when the hearing was called to order, Drilon said creating a new department is not timely as the government is in need of additional funds for COVID-19 stimulus measures and vaccine procurement.

    According to a DBM study, the creation of a department would need at least P1.5 billion for hiring of officials and employees and capital outlays.

    Drilon said that even Senate President Vicente Sotto III is cold to the proposal of creating new departments.

    At least seven new departments are being proposed for creation, one each for OFWs, disaster resilience, water resources, fisheries and aquatic resources, sports, homeland security, and culture.

    Drilon said he maintains an open mind on the creation of a department of OFWs.

    “We are open to the discussion of this proposed measure but it is our submission that it should be deferred given the situation that we are in today. Is this the right time? I believe this bill can wait for a more opportune time,” Drilon said.

    He recalled the Rightsizing Bill was mentioned by Duterte as a priority measure in his State of the Nation Addresses in 2019 and 2017.