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Pinoy Abroad
'SUMBUNGAN, NOT RESCUE'

Perlas mobile app to give OFWs emergency line to embassies, consulates


A conceptual app aims to give overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) an emergency line to the government with just a few taps on their phones.

Perlas App by independent software company EICA Atelier aims to give OFWs an emergency line to the nearest Philippine embassy, consulate, and their manpower agency.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) will also be called on for the app.

EICA told GMA News Online in an email that the app, which has yet to materialize, is meant to be a "sumbungan" app and not a rescue app.

OFWs with emergencies may speak to call center agents through the app. These agents will then relay these incidences to the nearest Philippine Embassy to ensure that Filipinos in need are rescued in a lawful manner.

"Although the app is instantaneously processed to the embassy, it will be on the PH embassies' part on how fast they can send help," EICA wrote. "Right now, the chances of an OFW to survive an attack is close to none. With that app, it greatly reduces it to 50%."

The company is optimistic that the app will be especially valuable to OFWs with employers who have violent tendencies: "The employer would think twice from now on, or at least be cautious, thus giving an OFW a 50% 'fighting' chance."

EICA believes contractual mandates from POEA, OWWA, and the Philippine government to foreign employers will allow OFWs to keep their phones, a measure they said "will prove significantly valuable to an OFW already, even with not using the app yet."

Company founder Aldelm John Ferriols said a local telco "would say yes" to sponsor the development of the app if they had a prototype but "because we had tried so many times to get it in traction, using our own finances for it, we haven't showed a telco our semi-prototype yet."

Should the app receive backing for its creation, EICA proposed that the costs should be shouldered by manpower agencies to make the service free while a call center staffed by personnel with experience with OFWs deals with the calls.

The app was conceptualized after a forum in December 2017 focused on OFW security issues.

"I was there, hearing their discussions, and I thought that it's a communication issue, an easy fix. Bridge the gap between parties to alert people," Ferriols said. —KG, GMA News

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