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Saturday, December 9, 2023

House bill eyes  Migrant Worker Relations Commission

THE House of Representatives has started deliberations on a bill proposing the establishment of the Migrant Worker Relations Commission (MWRC), a quasi-judicial body that will have jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving Filipino migrant workers.

During the hearing of the joint House committees on government reorganization, Rep. Ron Salo of the Kabayan party-list group appealed to his fellow legislators to support House Bill No. 8805 or the Migrant Worker Relations Commission Bill which he authored.

The proposed MWRC is envisioned to be attached to the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

“The establishment of a dedicated quasi-judicial body exclusively for OFWs to ensure a more focused and streamlined approach to address their specific needs was initially proposed in the original draft creating the DMW in the House of Representatives,” said Salo, chairman of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs.

“This is consistent with the national policy of having one department, including the attached agencies, catering to the concerns of our migrant workers,” he added.

At present,  Salo said the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), a quasi-judicial agency attached to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), resolves claims and disputes involving OFWs.

“Considering that the NLRC handles more than 30,000 cases annually, the cases of OFWs are subjected to potential delays and backlogs,” Salo said.

He cited the need for Congress to enact the measure.

“This bill is unique and remarkable as it is one of the rare times that both employers and employees, represented by their union, are united in supporting and passing the measure.

“I urge my colleagues in Congress to recognize the importance of this measure and support its passage.

The passage of the MWRC stands as a testament to our unwavering commitment to the well-being of our modern-day heroes,” Salo stressed.

The hearing was attended by representatives from different unions of migrant workers, associations of manning and recruitment agencies who expressed their full support for the passage of the measure, namely the Association of Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP), Joint Manning Group (JMG), Association of Licensed Manning Agencies (ALMA), Philippine Association of Service Exporters Inc. (PASEI), Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand Association of Employment Providers of the Philippines (EC-ANZAEPP), and  Philippine Employment Agencies and Associates for Corporate Employers in the Middle East (PEACEME).

Representatives from government agencies such as the DMW, the NLRC, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, (OWWA) attended the hearing to deliver their comments.

AMOSUP, the country’s largest seafarer union, has expressed its full support for the proposed measure.

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