CLARK FREEPORT -- The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) recently led the ceremonial signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11299, also known as "An Act Establishing the Office for the Social Welfare Attaché."
Secretary Rolando Joselito Bautista spearheaded the IRR signing on February 12 at the DSWD Central Office.
The ceremonial signing will be witnessed by representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (Dole), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa), partner civil society organizations (CSOs), and non-government organizations (NGOs).
Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on April 17, 2019, the law ensures that the Philippine government, through DSWD, will send more Social Welfare Attachés (SWAtts) to countries with large concentration of overseas Filipinos (OFs) to assist them and their children, especially in times of crisis.
The law was authored by Senator Joel Villanueva and former Angkla Party-list Representative Jesulito Manalo.
The new law highlights the establishment of the Office of the Social Welfare Attaché (Oswa), which will be managed by SWAtts and will serve as the arm of DSWD, through its Home Office and Foreign Posts, in protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of OFs and their families, especially those in distress.
While in the host country, SWAtts will primarily manage cases of OFs in distress needing psychosocial services, such as victims of any forms of abuse, trafficking, and cases of abandoned or neglected children.
Moreover, they will provide services and programs to OFs and their families in distress using the established DSWD process: psychosocial services, Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), pre-marriage and marriage counseling services, referral services, socio-cultural and capability building activities, and repatriation and reintegration services, among others.
The SWAtts will be deployed for three consecutive years in countries with large concentration of OFs; high magnitude of reported cases of irregular, distressed, and vulnerable OFs as determined in coordination with DFA and Dole; and with an established Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Resource Center (MWOFRC).
MWOFRC is the central hub for welfare and assistance to migrant Filipinos.
Currently, DSWD has seven SWAtts in the following embassies and countries: Philippine Embassy of Riyadh and Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Philippine Embassy in Kuwait; Philippine Embassy in Malaysia; Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Philippine Embassy in Qatar; and, Philippine Consulate General in Hong Kong.
The IRR will strengthen DSWD's hiring and deployment of more SWAtts in additional Foreign Service Posts, thus, intensifying the provision of social protection programs for OFs and their families.