Govt boosts protection of Filipinos




The Manila Times


THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) are “partners” in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipinos (OFs), Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said. Manalo made the remark when he met with Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople to discuss the turnover of the Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) duties from the DFA to the DMW. The DFA on Twitter said Manalo assured Ople that the two departments “are partners in the third pillar of the Philippine foreign policy,” which is the protection of OFWs. Manalo on Tuesday hosted a working lunch for Ople and other DMW officials to strengthen capabilities for providing ATN to distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). The government’s ATN program started in 1995. In the past 27 years, the Philippines has “achieved recognition from other countries in taking action to assist distressed overseas Filipinos, majority of them OFWs,” the DFA said. Under Republic Act (RA) 11641 creating the DMW, the DFA will continue to provide ATN services to overseas Filipinos who are not OFWs. It will also continue its ATN services for OFWs in jurisdictions where there are no resident migrants workers Offices (MWOs) formerly Philippine overseas labor offices (POLOs). Manalo and Ople tackled the transition of ATN functions to DMW, including the training of DMW personnel, exchange of information on ATN processes and organization development. They also discussed close cooperation between Philippine embassies, consulates, and MROs. The DMW chief has also confirmed that the Aksyon Fund was already being utilized. The Aksyon (Agarang Kalinga at Saklolo para sa mga OFW na Nangangailangan) Fund was created under RA 11641 for the DMW’s ATN services for OFWs. In anti-trafficking efforts, effective cooperation among all the member agencies of the Inter-agency Council Against Trafficking resulted in the Philippines achieving and maintaining Tier 1 status in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report from 2017 to 2022, the DFA said.