MANILA, Oct 6 (Mabuhay) –Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople on Wednesday asked the Senate for an additional budget for the operations of the Department of Migrant Worker’s regional offices as well as the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital in Pampanga.

Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan ‘Toots’ Ople (MNS photo)

“‘Yung mga challenges po namin, ‘yung budget kailangan po namin sana ng dagdag sa capital outlay kasi magkaka-regional offices kami. May personnel pero wala po kaming capital outlay,” she said during the Senate finance committee hearing on DMW’s proposed P15.210 billion budget for 2023.

According to Ople, they were only given P44 million for the regional offices’ maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) but they need funding for its capital outlay to establish 16 physical offices across the country.

Apart from this, Ople appealed for additional allocations for the DMW’s surveillance efforts on illegal recruiters and human traffickers.

Further, Ople asked for more budget for the OFW Hospital in Pampanga as they were only given P13 million out of the P749 million original proposal to the Department of Budget and Management.

For it to be fully operational by 2023, Dr. Jose Dante Dator, head of the OFW Hospital, said they need P500 million.

Of the said amount, P212 million will go to personnel services, P166 million for the MOOE, and P120 million for capital outlay.

Dator said the capital outlay funds will be used for the needed laboratory equipment, furnishing of the hospital.

Should the P500 million additional budget be granted, Dator said the OFW Hospital can be declared as a fully-operational 102-bed Level 2 Hospital with Level 3 Laboratory by 2023.

This will enable them to conduct pre-employment medical requirements for OFWs, he added.

At the latter part of the hearing, Ople asked the Senate panel to file a counterpart measure of a House bill that seeks to institutionalize the OFW Hospital.

“Meron po kasing bill sa House (of Representatives) institutionalizing the OFW Hospital in Pampanga para po talagang [nasa] General Appropriations (Act)…Baka po pwedeng through you po, magkaroon ng counterpart sa Senate,” Ople said.

Senator JV Ejercito, who presided over the hearing, said he will look into the proposal.

The Senate finance committee has approved the proposed P15-billion budget of DMW as well as the proposed P592-million funding of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority for 2023.  (MNS)