DOLE gives administrative control of POEA, OWWA to DMW

LABOR Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma has turned over the administrative control of all the DOLE agencies dealing with Filipino overseas workers
to Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople.

Under the law that created the new Department of Migrant Workers Republic Act No. 11641, government agencies whose main mandate is the protection and promotion of Filipino migrant workers will be folded into DMW in two years.

Laguesma said less than three weeks since they assumed office, he and Ople have already signed a joint circular to fast-track the transition.

The DOLE agencies that will be transferred under DMW administration are Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP).

“We are here to facilitate and ensure the effective implementation of RA 11641. Media inapura namin dito sa joint circular,” Laguesma told media in a press conference.

Under Joint Circular No. 01, Ople will have “primary administrative control and supervision” over POEA, POLOs, ILAB and NRCo. Only “administrative supervision” will be given to Ople over OWWA and NMP, which will remain as attached agencies of DMW.

Funds for these agencies will be sourced from the 2022 General Appropriations Act.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia will continue to exercise the quasi-judicial functions of the administration—to be able to receive, hear and decide all cases under his jurisdiction.

Laguesma’s quasi-judicial power to receive, hear and decide all cases under his jurisdiction still remains under his ambit. Likewise, he keeps the power to issue licenses to recruitment and manning agencies, and which will be delegated to POEA Administrator.

Aside from DOLE, other departments to be affected by the DMW restructuring are the Departments of Foreign Affairs and of Social Welfare and Development. Ople said she has spoken with her colleagues in the Cabinet—Secretaries Enrique Manalo and Erwin Tulfo—on crafting a similar joint circular for the smooth transition of functions of the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers and DSWD’s International Social Services Office.

Labor officials commented that it was good President Marcos appointed Ople and Laguesma, who are already former colleagues and former DOLE undersecretaries, making the transition smoother. Laguesma rose from the ranks in DOLE during the time of Ople’s father, former Senate President and DOLE Secretary Blas F. Ople. He fondly calls Toots Ople as “younger sister.”

This is in contrast with the recent turf war that occurred during the last three months of the Duterte administration involving former DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, DFA Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. and former DMW Abdullah Mama-o. The former DMW secretary had apparently irked the DOLE and DFA secretaries after he issued a unilateral order for all officials who will be subsumed under the DMW to immediately report to him.

This drew a scathing denunciation also from Sen. Franklin M. Drilon, who said Mama-o was violating the law that created DMW with his unilateral actions, and causing confusion among stakeholders.

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