GMA  NAMING  NEW  CABINET  OFFICIAL  FOR  OFWs

MANILA,  October 22, 2004
(STAR)
By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo has elevated to Cabinet rank the post of the chairman of the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) although she has yet to appoint who would head this body under the Office of the President.

The CFO, previously an attached body of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), was transferred to the Office of the President under Executive Order 343, which Mrs. Arroyo signed last Aug. 5. Two months later, on Oct. 18, the President issued EO 373, a copy of which was obtained by The STAR yesterday, in which she ordered that the CFO chairman "shall have a Cabinet rank" and designated the DFA secretary as its vice chairman.

Under EO 373, the President named as members of the CFO the respective secretaries of the departments of trade and industry, labor and employment, tourism, education and justice, Office of the Press Secretary and CFO executive director.

The CFO, created by Republic Act 8042 in 1996, is the government agency mandated to formulate the general policies for the promotion of the welfare of Filipinos overseas and provide functional direction for its programs and operations.

"Recognizing the unprecedented and phenomenal increase in the number of Filipino overseas, the government is committed to strengthen its efforts towards protecting the rights and welfare of Filipino overseas, including their protection from the depredations of domestic recruiters as well as of overseas employers, agents and officials and their protection from physical harm," the President cited in EO 343.

The government estimates there are at least six to seven million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who remit as much as $14 billion to $21 billion a year to their families back home.

Mrs. Arroyo earlier designated Vice President Noli de Castro as her presidential adviser for OFWs. She also created the anti-illegal recruitment task force under EO 325 last July 9 and named retired police colonel Reynaldo Jaylo as its head.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) has recognized the Philippines as the No. 1 exporter of migrant workers in the world.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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