DMW may now tap P10B in DOLE funds

OVER P10 billion worth of funds of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) may now be tapped by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

This, after both agencies signed their Joint Memorandum Circular (JC) No. 1 last week, which led to the transfer of the administration of several attached agencies and offices of DOLE to DMW.

Among those agencies and offices covered by the issuance are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), National Reintegration Center for Overseas Filipino Workers (NRCO), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP).

In an interview with BusinessMirror, DOLE Financial and Management Service (FMS) Director Warren M. Miclat explained the DMW could make use of the funds of these offices by virtue of “administrative supervision.”

However, he stressed that it will still be DOLE which will manage the funds, as stated in the 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Under the 2022 GAA, Miclat said the affected agencies have the following budget allocations for this year: P1.4 billion for ILAB and the POLOS; P500 million for NMP; around P600 million for POEA; and P7 billion for OWWA.

“So on the succeeding day, there will be additional instructions on how to transfer funds with the consultation of DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and COA (Commission on Audit),” Miclat said.

DOLE issued the clarification after DBM issued last month a letter, which barred former DMW Secretary Abdullah D. Mama-O from using the funds of POEA.

DBM said POEA remains under the DOLE since DMW is still not fully constituted.

Under Republic Act 11641, the DMW can only be “fully constituted” once the necessary implementing rules and regulations (IRR), staffing pattern, and 2023 budget of the agency is finalized.

Currently, only the IRR of the DMW has been completed, while its staffing pattern and budget for next year is still pending.

Despite the pending full cons-titution of DMW, Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma explained DMW could already start managing the concerned DOLE agencies, which it will eventually absorb, under the new JC.  He noted the law does not prohibit the partial operation of DMW pending the completion of the three conditions.

“The earlier we can event the transition of the agencies that need to be subsumed [to DMW] the better for the OFWs and their families. That is really our guiding principle,” Laguesma said.

Labor Undersecretary Benjo M. Benavidez, who is a member of the transition committee for DMW, said they are targeting for the said agency to become fully operational by July 2023.