Helpline for Migrant Filipinos Worldwide Launched
Bien Custodio, Arab News
RIYADH, 19 February 2006 — If you are a domestic helper being harassed by your
employer, a site engineer who cannot find the way out of the Empty Quarter or a
crew in a sinking cruise ship or an oil tanker, you must be in real danger. The
good news, if you have your mobile phone with you, is that help can be a text
Here how it works, simply type SOS, put a space, type your message plus your
name, and send to +63 9209 639 767 or (+63 9209 OFW SOS), and once sent, your
messages are logged and saved in a computer and are automatically forwarded to
Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) and concerned agencies of government for
prompt and appropriate action.
Example: SOS si Juana dela Cruz po i2sa hk. Nag-run-away po ako.gus2 ko na umuwi
sa pinas.pls help.
The sending of text message uses ordinary SIM with regular charge per message.
CMA has launched SOS SMS-Based Information System yesterday.
“By launch, we mean activation of the SOS SMS number to receive text from
distressed OFWs in need of assistance from government and non-government
organizations (NGOs),” said Ellen Sana, executive director of CMA Philippines.
The system was conceptualized by Vic Barrazona of Riyadh, and developed by
colleague Joseph Henry B. Espiritu (CEO S4E-Inc), in coordination with Bobby
Soriano in Manila and Bong Ramilo in Australia.
The team said that it offers a handy, inexpensive, easy to use, accessible,
24-hour, seven-day mechanism “that may be availed by overseas Filipino workers,
anytime, anywhere around the world.”
CMA said that system delivers not only immediate relief to OFWs in distress but
also advocates effective policies and practices to promote the rights and
welfare of Filipino migrants.
Aside from providing immediate and necessary assistance to the distressed, the
SMS Hotline project aims to provide an on-line connection for OFWs and overseas
Filipinos to pre-designated Philippine mobile numbers for any or all of the
following purposes, such as voluntary registration of OFW and SMS polls and
The SOS SMS information system will also open a window for analysis of the
common problems of OFWs as well as the ability, efficiency and adequacy of
assistance and intervention by government and NGOs, the CMA advisory said.
“This is all for the purpose of identifying the gaps and recommendations thereto
vis-a-vis policies, practices and attitudes on migration issues and concerns,”
CMA, likewise, requests everyone to post and promote the SOS SMS number on
“Please help us spread the word,” Sana appealed.
Barrazona added that SOS SMS project is CMA’s way of building a bridge for
Filipino migrants wherever they may be.
“Together, we can tackle issues affecting Filipino migrants and reach consensus
through the use of SMS technology via this project which has been
conceptualized, developed by OFWs for OFWs around the globe,” Barrazona said.