The announcement of the Deparment of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) regarding the imminent deployment of social work attaches to provide assistance to OFWs in distress was welcomed by Migrante International, the global alliance of migrant organization.
"This is a positive development and we commend the DSWD for taking a step in the right direction. With the increasing number of OFWs in distress in the Middle East, the social work attaches will be very relevant," stated Garry Martinez, Migrante's Chairperson. "However, we sincerely hope that this is not simply a token gesture as this is not enough if the government wants to really genuinely provide protection and assistance to our kababayans in the Middle East."
Martinez reminded the DSWD that OFWs in distress can be found everywhere in the Middle East and not only in Riyadh and in Jordan, but in many major cities of the region.
"The sheer number of those in death row and in detention, those who are/were abused, raped, those who were illegally recruited or left stranded, scrounging for food in the Middle East demands an urgent, comprehensive and more effective response than what the attaches provided for the deportees from Malaysia." averred Martinez.
Last year, a fact finding mission on how effective government protected and assisted the deportees from Sabah was conducted by the organization. The report revealed awful accounts by the deportees of violence, hunger, forcible separation of parents and children resulting from the harsh raids conducted in migrant communities in Sabah. The victims that they it was only when they reached Zamboanga city were they given some kind of help by the DSWD.
Migrante also reiterated their demand that "government must also immediately send legal attaches, instead of police attaches." It is to be recalled that Migrante International has objected to the sending of police attaches to the Middle East, raising doubts as to whether the attaches were sent to protect OFWs or terrorize them.
Finally, Martinez noted that the sending of attaches to other countries, either lawyers or social workers, will only be palliative measures if the government continues its labor export policy.