A panel in the House of Representatives has approved a substitute bill which proposes to create the office for social welfare attache for overseas Filipino workers.
The House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, chaired by Rep. Jesulito Manalo of ANGKLA party-list, approved the unnumbered bill which substituted House Bill 8197 and 8414 authored by Deputy Speaker Linabelle Ruth Villarica of Bulacan and Rep. Gary Alejano of Magdalo party-list, respectively.
The bill amends Republic Act 8042, otherwise known as the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995,” as amended.
The bill mandates the Department of Social Welfare and Development to deploy social welfare attache in countries with large concentration of overseas Filipino workers, as determined in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment.
As provided in the bill, the social welfare attache shall possess the minimum qualifications set by the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the preferred qualifications prescribed by the DSWD.
It shall be the duty of the social welfare attache at the overseas post to manage cases of OFWs needing psychological services and overseas Filipinos in distress, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, sexually-abused, maltreated or mistreated overseas Filipinos, abandoned or neglected children and other vulnerable sectors.
The bill also provides that the social service attache shall undertake surveys and prepare official social welfare situationers on the OFWs in the area of assignment.
Furthermore, he/she shall establish a network with overseas-based social welfare agencies and/or individuals and groups which may be mobilized to assist in the provision of appropriate social services.
Moreover, the social welfare attache shall respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of OFWs and their families.
He/she shall also establish and maintain a system of data banking and documentation of OFWs and their families so that appropriate social welfare services can be more effectively provided.
The social welfare attache shall submit regular reports to the DSWD and DFA Home Office on plans and activities undertaken, recommendations, and updates on the situation of OFWs particularly those encountering difficulties in the host country. The said report shall form part of the semi-annual report to Congress as provided under Section 33 of RA 8042, as amended.
Additionally, he/she shall provide information about DWSD and its attached agencies and services.
Lastly, the social welfare attache shall perform other related functions in the delivery of social services, as may be directed by the head of the diplomatic post in the area of assignment.
The measure directs the DSWD Secretary to include in the DSWD’s programs the implementation of the Act and the funding of which shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act.
The bill mandates the DSWD, in consultation with the DFA, DOLE, Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and other relevant stakeholders to formulate the necessary rules and regulations within 60 days after the effectivity of the Act for its effective implementation.
The DSWD shall also provide the criteria for determining the selection of Diplomatic Posts to which Social Welfare Attaches will be deployed and the minimum qualifications and attributes of the Social Welfare Attaches.