By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva called for the approval of a bill that would create offices for social welfare attachés for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Villanueva on Wednesday pushed anew the passage of Senate Bill No. 1819 or the proposed “Act Establishing The Office For Social Welfare Attaché.”
The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development made the appeal as he expressed his sympathies on the reported suicide of two OFWs in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon recently.
“We express our deepest condolences to the family of our two OFWs who reportedly committed suicide while they are abroad providing for their families left behind,” Villanueva said in a statement.
Under his bill, the proposed Office of Social Welfare Attaché shall provide “adequate and timely” social, economic and legal services to OFWs. It shall also deploy social welfare attachés to manage cases of OFWs in distress; and ensure coordination among agencies and various groups to address the psychosocial needs of distressed OFWs.
Villanueva, in his appeal, said that the appointment of permanent social welfare attachés in Philippine embassies would address the incidence of suicides and abuse to migrant Filipino workers.
He also stressed the importance of mental health of the OFWs who are experiencing depression while they are away from their families.
“We believe that having permanent social welfare attachés in our embassies can help prevent incidents of suicide and cases of abuse against our modern-day heroes,” he said.
Meanwhile, Villanueva asked the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide all necessary assistance to the families of the two OFWs who reportedly took their lives last week.
The DFA earlier reported the deaths of two household workers in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. The household service workers were reportedly from Cagayan and Agusan del Sure.
Villanueva said he hopes that authorities in Riyadh and Beirut to “immediately finish” the investigation on whether or not there was foul play in the deaths of the household workers.