Press Release
July 15, 2019

Villanueva: Newly-signed Social Welfare Attachés Act beefs up gov't ability to look after psychosocial needs, concerns of OFWs

Senator Joel Villanueva has credited the government's determination to further promote the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with the signing of the law that institutionalizes the deployment of social welfare attaches in foreign posts.

Villanueva expressed gratitude to the administration for enacting into law Republic Act No. 11299 or the Social Welfare Attaché Act, a measure he has been pursuing since 2009 at the 14th Congress as CIBAC Party-List representative.

"We thank the President for enacting this bill which stands to benefit OFWs, whose contribution to our economy entails personal sacrifice. Umaasa po tayo na sa bisa ng batas na ito, regular na pong magkakaroon ng mga social welfare attache sa ating mga tanggapan sa ibang bansa," said Villanueva, who principally authored and sponsored the measure in the Senate last 17th Congress.

"Now that the SWA has been institutionalized, we are confident that the psycho-social needs of our OFWs will be addressed better," added the senator.

The law creates the Office for Social Welfare Attachés (SWA), which will facilitate deployment of social welfare attaché to diplomatic posts. It will be the SWA's primary responsibility to manage cases of OFWs in distress and address their psycho-social needs.

SWAs will also be tasked to put together a social welfare situationer of Filipinos in their areas of assignment, and network with overseas-based social welfare agencies.

SWAs shall also establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families so that appropriate social welfare services can be more effectively provided to them.

From 2013 until the first half of 2018, SWAs in various posts have served a total of 78,241 distressed overseas Filipinos.

Over four million OFWs are spread all over the world as of 2018, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

Villanueva said the government set aside P90 million in the 2019 national budget for the SWA office.

Currently, there are seven SWAs deployed in the following locations: Saudi Arabia (Riyadh and Jeddah), United Arab Emirates (Dubai), Qatar, Kuwait, Malaysia, and Hong Kong.

Additional five posts are expected to be opened this year in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), Jordan, Lebanon, Italy, and South Korea. Villanueva said he expects that more SWA posts will be added in the years to come to cater to the needs of the growing number of OFWs.

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