The SOS Short Messaging System for OFWs in Distress (SOS SMS) is a 24/7 text-based ICT mechanism conceptualized and developed by OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) and implemented in cooperation with the various CMA partner NGOs worldwide, as well as with the DFA–OUMWA (Department of foreign Affairs–Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs) and the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration).
As a text-based mechanism, SOS SMS rides on the backbone of the cell phone technology, capitalizing on the OFWs’ familiarity with the SMS utility, and is dependent solely on the OFW’s access to any SMS-enabled landline or cell phone unit. As such, SOS SMS enables the near-instantaneous, inexpensive, 24/7 reporting of OFW cases from practically anywhere.
As a research tool, SOS SMS establishes a database that permits case documentation, indexation, classification and analysis of various OFW problems and related issues.
More significantly, SOS SMS gives Government agencies and NGOs the opportunity to respond and/or intervene, in a timely, adequate and efficient manner, particularly where either the OFW’s life, safety or well being is a critical consideration.
Being a software-based information and reporting system where messages are sent to and received by a central computer and auto-forwarded to both the CMA and the appropriate government agency, the SOS SMS system establishes an electronic trail by logging and storing automatically all critical message details that will be useful in developing research leads, remedial recommendations and advocacy thrusts.
SOS SMS would thus enable CMA to document, index, classify and analyze reported cases of distressed OFWs in terms of work categories and geographical location, gender, types/forms of abuses, destination/work place, type/form of intervention extended, case response and resolution times, groups (GOs, NGOs and individuals, here and abroad) involved or mobilized for the case resolution.
As an advocacy tool, SOS SMS would allow CMA and its partners to develop advocacy thrusts aimed at identifying loopholes in respect of migration attitudes, policies and practices, as well as make recommendations to address them, either through executive, administrative or legislative action.
Step 1. Call for help — For immediate relief/ action on request for assistance: Text <sos> <space> <sender’s name & message> and send to +63 9209 OFW SOS (+63 9209 639 767)
Step 2. Receipt and Recording — Text Message is received by the SOS SMS System where it is logged and stored in the database (Sender’s mobile number used; date and time received; Message; Sender’s name and/or address)
Step 3. Forwarding / Referral — Text Message is auto-forwarded by the computer to the designated recipient cell phones of the CMA, OWWA and DFA–OUMWA. SOS SMS System logs recipient’s number, forwarding date, whether it was acknowledged or replied to, when and from what number.
Step 4. Verification and Action — OWWA and OUMWA verify the SOS SMS receipt of and transmission of the message and determine the appropriate action. CMA does the same and follows up to verify timely receipt by the OWWA and OUMWA. This step also ensures that both CMA and OWWA / OUMWA can immediately cross-check message details and request additional information, if necessary.
Step 5. Case-file development, follow-up and resolution — CMA periodically prints out the master computer log and initiates a case file with a written report on each individual case received by the SOS SMS system and forwarded to the DFA–OUMWA and OWWA. These constitute the initial case-file document, the hard-copy basis for periodic follow-up until the reported cases are resolved.
The follow-through defined in Steps 4 and 5 ensure that CMA is continuously in the loop, armed with enough case-status information from DFA–OUMWA and OWWA responsive to the sender follow-up queries.
Step 6. Data mining and research — CMA documents, indexes, classifies and analyzes all reported cases of distressed OFWs according to work category and geographical location, gender, type/form of abuse, destination/work place, type/form of intervention extended, case response and resolution times, groups (GOs, NGOs and individuals, here and abroad) involved or mobilized.
Step 7. Advocacy — CMA and its partners develop advocacy thrusts aimed at identifying loopholes in respect of migration attitudes, policies and practices, as well as make recommendations to address them, either through executive, administrative or legislative action.
The SOS SMS Project is a work in progress. Additional system features and refinements to make it more secure, efficient, responsive and effective are being worked out primarily by the SOS SMS Project team.
However, the SOS SMS project will be effective and serve its intended purpose only if the OFWs, who are the primary stakeholders, are sufficiently informed about it.
Consequently, they must be made aware that this easy-to-use, relatively inexpensive 24/7 mechanism is:
It is for this purpose that CMA and its project partners request the much-needed assistance both of the media and of the various overseas OFW communities.
THE SOS SMS PROJECT TEAM
The SOS SMS Project team who volunteered their time, expertise and resources to conceptualize, develop and maintain this SOS SMS project is composed of Victor Barrazona (Saudi Arabia), Joseph Henry Espiritu (Saudi Arabia), Roberto Soriano (IPD, Philippines) and Christian Bong Ramilo (Australia).
The portal and central database is housed in a computer maintained in Quezon City, Philippines.