Angara proposes sending more welfare envoys to aid tormented OFWs
A senator on Friday suggested sending more social welfare attachés (SWAs) abroad to extend special protection to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in countries swamped with cases of abuse and violence.
“While we have competent lawyers and experts in our embassies, we lack personnel who can give psychosocial care to victims of violence and trafficking,” said Sen. Sonny Angara.
“Traumatized Filipinos require the services of a trained professional. In short, a lead malasakit (nurturing) officer,” he added.
Angara said that there were only four social welfare officers deployed by the government across the globe: the Department of Social Welfare and Development has two SWAs posted in Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and one each in Kuwait and Malaysia.
There were also plans to send three more SWAs to Dubai, Qatar, and Hong Kong, the senator said.
Angara said the presence of SWAs would be a welcome addition to an embassy and should be integrated and made a permanent fixture in the country’s foreign service.
The senator made the proposal amid the mounting number of cases of sexual and physical abuse of OFWs, particularly in the Middle East.
Beefing up the Philippine diplomatic mission in these countries could help provide care, comfort, and counseling to OFWs in a crisis situation, Angara said.
The death of Joanna Demafelis–discovered in a freezer a year after she was reported missing in Kuwait–highlighted the sorry plight of many OFWs, most of them domestic workers.
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