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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mobile phones not just for sending money, group shows

By Julie Javellana-Santos
MANILA—Two Filipino workers need immediate assistance within 24 hours, Riyadh-based operators of a six-month old mobile phone helpline service system revealed.
According to a Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-based group of overseas Filipino workers, some 250.2 OFWs have sent short messages via their wireless handheld telephones and required direct intervention or assistance.
“Since its launching last February 14, our archives show us an average of four to six SOS messages a day just for KSA alone—minus those walk-in calls from all over the region,” an electronic mail from advocacy group Pusong Mamon Task Force said June 24.
This means that within 130 days, a total of 780 messages have been received by the SOS SMS [short message system] Hotline System of PMTF and the nongovernment group Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines.PMTF said that 60 percent of these SOS messages required “para-legal counselling on various labor and welfare problems, 25 percent require[d] direct intervention or assistance, while the remaining are plain queries on various government services.”
This means that some 468 messages sent to the system were about labor- and welfare-related issues, 195 were cries for help, and 117 were requests for information on government services.
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