PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a measure creating the Office for Social Welfare Attaché for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Republic Act (RA) 11299, inked on April 17, is meant to "provide adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to Filipino migrant workers," especially for those who are vulnerable to "physical, emotional, and psychological stress or abuse."
The recently-signed law amends RA 8042 or the Migrant Workers Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 to pave the way for the creation of the social welfare attache for OFWs.
RA 11299 mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to deploy social welfare attachés in countries where there are many Filipino workers.
The social welfare attaché is required to manage cases of OFWs and other overseas Filipinos in distress, and respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of OFWs and their families.
It is also directed to undertake surveys and prepare official social welfare situationers on the OFWs in the area of assignment, and establish a network of overseas-based social welfare agencies.
The new office is also ordered to establish and maintain a data bank and documentation of OFWs and their families, and submit regular reports to the DSWD and the Department of Foreign Affairs with regard to the OFWs' situation.
The funding for the creation of the new office will be sourced from the DSWD's annual budget.
RA 11299 assigns the DSWD as the lead agency to craft the implementing rules and regulations 60 days after the effectivity of the act.
The DSWD is also tasked to provide the criteria for determining the selection of diplomatic posts where social welfare attachés will be deployed.
A copy of the new law is released by the Palace just on Tuesday, July 16.
It was released four days after Duterte sought the establishment of a new department that would attend to the needs of OFWs by December. (SunStar Philippines)