Press Release
July 18, 2019

Deploy more Social Welfare Attaches as there is only 1 for every 624,000 OFWs

Government should consider Social Welfare Attaches (SWAs) as "priority hires" as there is currently only one for every 623,561 overseas Filipinos - the smallest employee-to-clientele ratio in public service today, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

Recto said there are only 7 SWAs worldwide, who serve a constituency of 4.365 million OFWs, Recto said. "If 5 more will be deployed this year, the SWA-to-OFW ratio will increase to about 1 to 364,000. Imagine having 1 doctor or dentist for this number of people."

Recto is batting for the accelerated hiring of more SWAs following President Duterte's signing of Republic Act 11299, which creates the Office of the Social Welfare Attache in diplomatic posts where there is a large concentration of Filipino contract workers.

"Kulang talaga. Halimbawa, sa Saudi Arabia, per reports, dalawa lang ang social welfare attaches, for an OFW population of about 1 million," Recto said.

He urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), which oversees the SWAs, to include in its 2020 budget request funds for the creation of more SWA items.

Recto also asked to the DSWD "to widen the recruitment for Social Welfare Attaches to include OFWs living in the countries where they will be deployed for as long as they meet the criteria for hiring and pass the qualifying exams."

"Instead of parachuting someone from Manila to an alien territory, why not get someone who has long been on the ground, speaks the language, knows the culture, is familiar with the terrain to be navigated, and who is or was an OFW himself ?" he said.

And for SWAs to effectively function as first responders to Filipinos in distress, a support staff is a must, and this must also be included in next year's appropriations, Recto said.

He said the current funding of P90 million for the pay and operational expenses of all SWAs is insufficient "if taken against the backdrop of attended cases and the amount of money OFWs are remitting home."

"Last year, P1.5 trillion ang remittances nilang lahat. Ano ba naman ang suklian natin 'yan ng dagdag serbisyo tulad ng ipagkakaloob ng mga social welfare attaches? " Recto said.

The other factor is the "perennially high number of Filipinos in distress" who need to be repatriated, cared for, counseled, rescued, and shown acts of compassion - all of which have stretched the limited resources of our understaffed foreign posts, Recto said.

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