By Leonel Abasola
MANILA – Families left behind by migrant workers must be assisted by the government considering that their children are deprived of parental attention during their formative years, according to a measure filed by Senator Mark Villar.
Senate Bill No. 1527 or the Left-Behind Household of Migrant Workers Act noted that the healthy development of the children is affected when left behind by either their father or mother, or worse, both.
Children of migrant workers experience a vast range of poor physical and mental health due to separation from their parents, most starting from early childhood, that may result in long-term physical, cognitive, and emotional outcomes, according to studies.
“Although migrant workers fulfill the basic needs of the family especially food and financial security, the psychological needs of belongingness and intimacy were fully challenged because of physical separation” Villar said in his explanatory note.
The bill seeks to establish Migrant Workers Family Centers nationwide and provide welfare assistance and counselling services to the families of migrant workers; serve as coordinating office with non-government organizations and associations that cater to the plight of migrant workers; and serve as a link of left-behind households to various services and/or agencies of the government on overseas employment.
The family centers will help family members sustain harmony in their relationships and prepare them for future reintegration with the migrant worker.
The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) shall head the program and establish the family centers that will be strategically located in every city or municipality where there is a large population of families who have relatives working abroad.
The measure also mandates DMW to report to Congress the number of cases brought to various centers and the interventions provided. (PNA)