MANILA — Senator Sonny Angara on Wednesday said more social welfare attachés will soon be deployed abroad to assist distressed overseas Filipinos and their children now that the bill seeking to institutionalize their deployment is up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
Angara, a principal author of the measure, said deploying more social welfare attachés in Philippine embassies and consulates would help bring comfort and provide assistance to overseas Filipino workers, who are victims of abuse, illegal recruitment, and maltreatment, among others.
Angara noted that only seven social welfare attachés are currently deployed in several parts of the world, including Malaysia, Kuwait, Qatar, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Jeddah and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.
“Having ‘malasakit officers’ in Philippine embassies and consulates is a reassurance that the government truly cares for our modern-day heroes, who sacrifice a lot to create better lives for their families and help the Philippine economy to stay afloat through their remittances,” Angara said.
Angara cited the need for a trained professional who can provide “care, comfort, and counseling” to OFWs in crisis situation and in need of special protection, noting that this kind of skill-set might not be found in the organizational setup of an embassy.
“In the division of labor inside what is basically a multi-agency embassy, there are assigned personnel that can handle legal cases, liaise with local police, as well as military, trade, agriculture attachés,” Angara said.
“Kahit meron tayong magagaling na abogado sa mga embahada at batikang eksperto sa lokal na regulasyon, ang isang kakulangan ay ‘yung magbibigay ng psychosocial care doon sa mga biktima ng trafficking or violence (Even though we have great lawyers and experts on local regulation in our embassies, we still lack trained personnel who could provide psychological care to victims of trafficking or violence),” Angara said.
He said a total of PHP90 million is allocated for the creation of the Office of the Social Welfare Attaché under the 2018 and 2019 national budget. (PNA)