Angara wants more social welfare attaches to aide OFWs in distress

Posted on: Sun, 11/03/2019 - 12:01 By: admin
Photo by Ouij on / CC BY-NC-ND

Every day overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are subjected to abuse in one form or another in the countries they are deployed and need all the assistance that they can get from the government.

In April this year, the President signed Republic Act 11299 establishing the Office for Social Welfare Attache and to date, a total of seven active posts have been filled namely Malaysia/Brunei; Jeddah; Riyadh; Kuwait; Hong Kong; Qatar; and Dubai.

Senator Sonny Angara called on the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to fill up the five vacant posts in Jordan; Lebanon; South Korea; Italy; and the United Arab Emirates in order to bring the total to 12.

“I have been pushing for the deployment of more Social Welfare Attaches (SWA) in order to provide our OFWs with the assurance that its government cares about them, particularly when they are in distress,” Angara said.

“Every year our OFWs have been remitting billions of dollars back home to their families and this has consistently provided an invaluable boost to our economy. This is why we should be there for them when they need us the most,” Angara added.

In 2018, personal remittances from OFWs reached a total of $32.2 billion, a record high, based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. For the first eight months of the year, personal remittances have already reached close to $22 billion.

Angara, who is chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, aired his confidence that the Senate would provide funding for, at the very least, another eight SWAs in 2020, if the DSWD is able to fill up the five vacant posts already.

“I have already asked my staff to study if we can increase the number of authorized posts to 30. Clearly, the scaling up of the deployment of these important frontline personnel has long been delayed. The attache-to-OFWs ratio is dismally low. We have to reverse the trend,” Angara said.

For 2020, the DSWD has a proposed budget of P156.7 billion, an increase of P18 billion from the current year’s budget.

“Lagi natin nababalitaan ang mga pangaabuso na dinaranas ng ating mga OFWs. Kadalasan sila ay biktima ng human trafficking, pagmamaltrato sa kamay ng kanilang mga amo, rape o sexual abuse. Ang mga SWA ay nandyan bilang mga eksperto sa paghahatid sa kanila ng psychosocial services,” Angara said.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are currently 2.3 million OFWs as of 2018.

Around 56 percent of the total consists of women, who are usually more vulnerable to abuse.

“With so many OFWs scattered all over the world, seven SWAs are clearly not enough to look after the needs of all who are in distress or who underwent traumatic incidents,” Angara said.