PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed into law a bill requiring the presence of social welfare attachés in foreign labor markets with high concentration of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Malacañang released to reporters on Monday copies of Republic Act No. 11299, which Mr. Duterte signed on April 17.

The new law amends Republic Act No. 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, by adding a provision that requires the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to deploy social welfare attachés to such labor markets.

The deployment sites will be determined in consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).

The social welfare attachés will “manage cases of OFWs and other overseas Filipinos in distress needing psychosocial services, such as victims of trafficking or illegal recruitment, rape or sexual abuse, maltreatment and other forms of physical or mental abuse, and cases of abandoned or neglected children.”

Their functions include to “respond to and monitor the resolution of problems and complaints or queries of OFWs and their families.”

The funding source for the law is the annual General Appropriations Act.

“The DSWD, in consultation with the DFA, DoLE, Department of Health, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and other relevant stakeholders, shall, within 60 days after the effectivity of this Act, formulate the necessary rules and regulations for its effective implementation,” according to the law.

The law takes effect 15 days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. — Arjay L. Balinbin