Senator Joel Villanueva, chairperson of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, on Wednesday welcomed the approval on second reading of a measure institutionalizing social welfare attachés as a permanent component of Philippine foreign posts in countries or jurisdictions with the highest concentration of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) or cases of Filipinos being trafficked.
“It is high time that we pass a measure deploying more social welfare attachés amid the numerous cases of abuses against OFWs especially in the Middle East,” said Villanueva, author and sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1819 or An Act Establishing The Office For Social Welfare Attaché.
Data shows that from 2013 until the first semester of 2017, our Social Welfare Attachés served a total of 61,131 distressed OFWs who were victims of physical, sexual and psychological abuse, maltreatment, trafficking and marital conflicts, as well as abandoned or neglected children and other vulnerable sectors.
However, Villanueva noted that only eight social welfare attaches were deployed in several parts of the world as of May 2018.
The Social Welfare Attaché Bill provides: a) adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to OFWs; b) deployment of social welfare attachés to manage cases of OFWs in distress; and c) ensures coordination among agencies and various groups to address the psychosocial needs of distressed OFWs.
“We have over 10 million Filipinos spread out in more than 170 countries. Malaking bagay po na makapagdeploy tayo ng sapat na social welfare attachés para mabigyan ang ating OFWs ng lakas ng loob, tamang pag-iisip at desisyon, positibong pananaw, ispiritwal na paggabay, at psycho-social support para ma-empower sila at nang makaiwas sa anumang kapahamakan,” Villanueva said.