The Department of Labor and Employment, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Justice (DOJ) for the provision of full protection to children left behind by Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).
“We were quite alarmed by the results of the study on violence against children which stated that migration is one of the reasons of physical, sexual, or psychological violence to children,” said Bello citing the study initiated by the Council for the Welfare of Children (CWC) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Bello added that the MOU is part of the government’s effort to balance the desire of the OFW parents to provide for the needs of their children by working abroad on one hand, and to ensure that their children are in the safe hands of the people they have chosen to look after the well-being of their loved ones.
The signatories of the MOU were Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello lll as the OWWA Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Secretary Vitaliano N. Aguirre ll for DOJ, and Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo for DSWD.
Under the Agreement, OWWA shall intensify child protection campaigns on violence against children, especially children of OFWs through the immediate clarification and resolution on issues and concerns raised by the OFWs by conducting regular consultations and monitoring of Family Welfare Officer; provide relevant information on specific cases of OFWs; assist in the distribution and dissemination of the Child Abuse and Exploitation information materials through the OFW Family Circles (OFCs) and OFW Help Desks; integrate Child Abuse and Exploitation module prepared by the DSWD in the conduct of trainings and orientations for OFWs and their families; and report suspected cases or incidence of child abuse to DSWD, DOJ and other law enforcement authorities.
The DOJ shall conduct preliminary investigation on child abuse and exploitation cases; provide legal advice/assistance to the child/family; coordinate and monitor the status of referred cases filed at the Prosecutors’ Offices and in courts; ensure child-friendly, child and gender sensitive investigations of cases as stipulated in the DOJ-CSPC Protocol for the Management of Child Victims of Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation; conduct speedy preliminary investigation/resolution of referred cases; and participate in the case conferences on cases referred by OWWA and in the convergence program of the OWWA, DSWD, Local Government Unit, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The DSWD, on the other hand, shall provide assistance, shelter and protection to children of OFWs who are victims of child abuse and exploitation in coordination with the LGUs; coordinate with the agencies covered by the MOU on the process of reporting complaints and assistance; participate in the prevention campaign against Child Abuse and Exploitation and converge with OWWA, DOLE, LGU, DOJ, and AFI; provide other forms of assistance, pursuant to its mandate under Executive Order No. 221 and Executive Order No. 1 that define the mandate, roles, powers and functions of the DSWD and its implementing Rules and Regulations; take the lead in the conduct of psycho-social interventions/referrals and case conferences on cases referred by OWWA; and integrate issues and concerns of children of OFWs in the Family Development Sessions (FDs) and Parenting Effectiveness Sessions (PES) modules.
Bello said the MOU complements with Republic Act No. 7610, “An Act Providing Stronger Deterrence and Special Protection Against Child Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination”, and Republic Act No. 9262, “An Act on Violence Against Women and their Children” (VAWC).