Press Release
February 16, 2018


Amid reports of mounting cases of migrant workers in distress, Senator Sonny Angara is pushing for the deployment of more social welfare attachés (SWA) to beef up the Philippine diplomatic mission in countries swamped with pleas for help from abused Filipinos or those in trouble with the law.

According to Angara, there is an urgent need to send more SWAs because there are only four social welfare officers deployed by the government across the globe.

"Konti lang talaga at hindi pa nga aabot ng one SWA per continent," said Angara, noting that SWAs fill a gap in the country's foreign posts.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has two SWAs posted in Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and one each in Kuwait and Malaysia. Plans are afoot to send three more SWAs to Dubai, Qatar and Hong Kong.

"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, " the senator explained.

But what is lacking, Angara stressed, is a trained professional who can provide the three essential C's--care, comfort and counseling--to Filipinos in crisis situation in need of special protection.

"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," Angara said.

"Traumatized Filipinos require the services of a trained professional. In short a lead malasakit officer," he said. "Kung ang isang OFW ay biktima ngsexual abuse, yung pagtulong sa kanila ay nangangailangan ng isangspecialist and this is the kind of skill-set that might not be found in the organizational setup of an embassy," Angara said.

The presence of SWAs, Angara added, is a welcome addition to an embassy, and they should be integrated and made permanent fixture of the country's foreign service.

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