Deploy more welfare attaches amid rising number of OFWs in distress, PNoy urged

Published by rudy Date posted on August 10, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – Even as the sex-for-flight scheme is still being investigated, a Palace ally has urged President Benigno Aquino III to consider deploying more social welfare attaches (SWAs) to countries which have a high incidence of Filipinos in distress.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Saturday said the rise in the numbers of OFWs in crisis situations should be met with an increase in the number of trained government personnel who can give them comfort and aid.

He said personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration stationed in government’s 92 foreign posts are already having a hard time responding to a “myriad of OFW needs.”

Recto suggested “a fourth leg to the three traditional agencies” assisting OFWs— the Department of Social Welfare and Development which he said can dispatch professional social workers to countries with big numbers of OFWs in distress.

Professional social workers and trained counselors might be the right kind of personnel who can give succor to Filipino migrants who have suffered maltreatment and abuse in the workplace or host community.

“Our posts have the competency to make legal representations or attend to labor matters but there is a reported big gap when it comes to comforting Filipinos in distress,” he said.

When it comes to intensive therapeutic counseling to victims of abuse or stress debriefing for those who have experienced traumatic events, for example, there are no designated personnel in a typical embassy, Recto said.

Recto said the deployment of SWAs to selected diplomatic posts had been authorized as early as February 2004 when Executive Order 287 was released.

Among the first countries to which SWAs were sent was Malaysia, after it expelled Filipinos by thousands from 2000 to 2010.

Recently, the Department of Budget and Management approved the creation of six SWA positions, each with the rank and pay officially of Social Welfare Officer IV.

The six will be stationed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Jeddah, Hong Kong, South Korea and Qatar. Previously, three social welfare officers were deployed to “OFW heavy” cities of Amman, Jordan and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. –Ernie Reyes,

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