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Give vulnerable migrants access to social services

M-Social Welfare Officers (Philippines)

What would you do if you were an abused migrant worker? Who could you turn to for support abroad? What would you do if your own country couldn’t help you?

Such was the case for exploited Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) seeking counseling in embassy-run shelters in Kuwait.1 Embassy and shelter staff lacked the capacity to provide adequate services to distressed OFWs. In response, government took an important step in protecting distressed OFWs in overseas shelters by sending a Social Welfare Officer (SWO) to the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait.

Simula ng kanyang deployment, the SWO has provided psychological support, counseling, and rehabilitation to OFW victims of exploitation and abuse, lalo na sa mga domestic helpers, na siyang pinaka-vulnerable.

Hindi bago ang konsepto ng ‘Social Welfare Officer’. In 2004, inilabas ang Executive Order No. 287, which says that Social Welfare Officers should be placed in countries kung saan maraming OFWs. Social Welfare Officers have been assigned to 8 of the top 11 destination and high-risk countries for Filipinos working abroad.

However, Singapore, Taiwan, and Bahrain top the list with nearly 250,000 total OFWs but still don’t have Social Welfare Officers in place.2 Hindi lamang legal support at labor assistance ang kailangan ng mga OFW. We know the face the same challenges as fellow Filipinos in Kuwait — they need counseling and rehabilitation, which only a professional social worker can oversee.

Department of Social Welfare and Development Sec. Dinky Soliman should commit to requesting the placement of Social Welfare Officers in Singapore, Taiwan, and Bahrain.

Alam natin na kapag ang mga Social Welfare Officer ay ipinadala sa Singapore, Taiwan at Bahrain, makapagbibigay sila ng tulong at kalinga sa mga kababayan nating naging biktima nang pangaabuso.



  2. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration. 2008-2012 Overseas Employment Statistics

Visayan Forum

Visayan Forum Foundation innovates lasting solutions to end exploitation and modern-day slavery. We envision a society where people are free, protected, and empowered to explore opportunities without the risk of exploitation and slavery.