Senator Joel Villanueva on Wednesday stressed the importance of mental health among overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are experiencing depression due to long-term separation from their families.
He condoled with the family of two OFWs, both household service workers, in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia who reportedly committed suicide.
“We hope that the authorities in Beirut and Riyadh will immediately finish the investigation on whether there was a foul play in the deaths of our kababayans,” Villanueva said.
The Philippine Embassy in Beirut said a household service worker from Cagayan was reported to have committed suicide by jumping from her employer’s sixth floor apartment in Beirut on June 11.
On the other hand, the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh reported that a household service worker from Agusan del Sur allegedly hanged herself at her employer’s residence in Al Hasa, some 350 kilometers from Riyadh on June 12.
Villanueva also urged the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide all necessary assistance to the loved ones of the OFWs.
He also reiterated his call for the passage of Senate Bill No. 1819 or “An Act Establishing The Office For Social Welfare Attaché.”
SBN 1819 provides: adequate and timely social, economic and legal services to OFWs; deployment of social welfare attachés to manage cases of OFWs in distress; and censures coordination among agencies and various groups to address the psychosocial needs of distressed OFWs.
“We believe that having permanent social welfare attachés in our embassies can help prevent incidents of suicide and cases of abuse against our modern-day heroes,” Villanueva said.
The DFA said the Philippine Embassies in Beirut and Riyadh are closely coordinating with investigating authorities in both countries to see to it that there was “no foul play” in the deaths of the two Filipina domestic workers.
“We are deeply saddened by the news that two of our kababayan reportedly decided to take their own lives while working abroad and away from their families,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.
He also assured the families of the two alleged suicide victims that the DFA will extend the necessary assistance to them, including the repatriation of their remains as soon as possible.
This article was originally published on POLITICS.COM.PH