OFW ASSISTANCE. Distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are assisted by Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials at the Kuwait International Airport for their fight home Tuesday (Jan. 17, 2023). The DMW and the DFA has started the process of transferring the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) function to the newly created department to streamline assistance to OFWs in order to better protect and promote their welfare in their host countries. (Photo courtesy of DMW)

MANILA – As part of its mandate to protect and promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Department of Migrant Workers, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs, has started the process of transferring the Assistance to Nationals (ATN) function from the latter to the newly created department.

The turnover also includes the transfer of legal assistance funds from DFA to DMW, while ensuring continuous service to all OFWs worldwide.

Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2023, which was signed by DMW Secretary Susan Ople and DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo on Wednesday provides the creation of a technical working group to formulate joint policies and guidelines leading to the completion of the transition.

The handover of the said functions complies with the provisions stipulated under Republic Act 11641, which was signed by former President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2021, creating and mandating the DMW to oversee all policies protecting the welfare of Filipinos working abroad.

The TWG shall be co-chaired by the DMW Undersecretary for Foreign Employment and Welfare Services and the DFA Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs.

They will be joined by three designated officials each from the DMW and the DFA.

Aside from formulating policies, the TWG is also tasked to ensure the smooth and efficient transition in managing services and assistance to OFWs in all Foreign Service Posts (FSPs) which is currently under the DFA.

The joint circular states that during the transition period, the DFA shall continue to manage the provision of the ATN and other services to OFWs in embassies and consulates abroad until March 31, 2023, when the full turnover is expected to have been completed.

During the said period, the DFA “shall retain and disburse ATN and legal assistance funds to assist OFWs, until such time that the concerned Migrant Workers Office (MWO) is fully equipped with the operational and financial requirements to provide such assistance.”

Meanwhile, the DFA shall also provide training and mentoring to DMW-MWO personnel to enhance their competence in managing and handling ATN concerns relating to OFWs during the transition period.

All ATN cases will also be turned over by the DFA to the DMW, complete with data and inventory of such cases for easier facilitation. (PNA)