Senate President Manny Villar, president of the Nacionalista Party and guest candidate of the Genuine Opposition (GO), called yesterday for the deployment of more social workers to provide counseling and other assistance to beleaguered overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Over the weekend, Villar visited Hong Kong where many OFWs consulted him about their plight.
Villar renewed his call for the Department of Labor and Employment and other concerned agencies to provide enhanced counseling services to "our kababayans abroad," stressing that government action on this aspect remains wanting.
Villar earlier expressed grave concern over the deaths of OFWs all over the world, the most recent of which involved the case of a Filipina maid who leapt to her death to escape her abusive employer.
He said the lack of counseling services in Philippine embassies abroad, particularly in countries that host Filipino workers, is a reflection of the administration's apparent lack of concern for OFWs.
Villar noted that the Labor department swings into action only during high profile cases of Filipinos getting into trouble abroad.
"This should not be the case. The government is being reactive, when it should be proactive when it comes to implementing measures that would ensure the protection of our countrymen in foreign shores," Villar said.
He said part of the DoLE's and the Department of Social Welfare and Development's mandate is to deploy social workers to help distressed OFWs.
"I call on these departments to consider deploying more social workers to provide counseling and other assistance to our OFWs. We should seriously consider the counseling needs of our OFWs particularly those who are undergoing emotional and mental anguish for various reasons," Villar said.
According to Villar, OFWs are confronted with various challenges, difficulties and hardships that cause mental or psychological anguish and other negative emotions.
Also yesterday, former Sen. Nikki Coseteng called for a 10-year moratorium on logging simultaneous with a program on massive planting of fast growing tree species.
"The grim statistics and the tragedies that have hit us make forest conservation and reforestation an urgent measure to prevent the disappearance of our remaining forest cover," warned Coseteng, who is running for senator under the Genuine Opposition banner.
Citing published statistics, Coseteng said the Philippines, which used to have 21 million hectares of forest in 1900, now has only 7.16 million hectares of forest left, which is less than the 40 percent forest cover required for ecological sustainability.
Of the remaining 7.16 million hectares, only 800,000 hectares are considered old-growth forest. This could drop to 320,000 hectares in five years if logging remains unabated.
The rapid disappearance of forest resources, mainly through illegal logging, has been blamed for the flash floods in Ormoc, Leyte in 1991, Aurora and Quezon provinces in December 2004 and Ginsaugon in Southern Leyte in February 2006, all of which resulted in the loss of thousands of lives and destruction of crops and property. …