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Social welfare attaché in HK reposted to Philippines

09 November 2021

By The SUN 

Villanueva posing for a picture shortly after arriving in HK

Filipino workers who are in need of assistance to resolve family problems are advised to approach the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section or the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration office for help.

This is so, because the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s office in the Consulate is closed at the moment following the departure of Social Welfare Attaché Lucita Villanueva nearly three months ago.

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Consul General Raly Tejada told The SUN said this evening, Nov 8, that Villanueva left on Aug 15 as she had been promoted to a key position in the regions.

“Lucit went home as she was promoted and appointed to a responsible position that will entail heading a DSWD Regional Office in the Philippines,” ConGen Tejada said.


A recent news release from the Philippine News Agency said Villanueva, who is 63, is now division chief in DSWD Regional Office 6. She heads a project called “Shield,” which carries out educational assistance in six municipalities in Antique to address child labor issues.

Her unannounced departure was noticed only recently by some migrant workers who needed to refer some urgent cases to the DSWD.

Consul Tejada said he expects the DSWD to send somebody to fill the vacant position soon. 


“We remain hopeful that a suitable replacement will be appointed by DSWD soon,” the consul general said.

“In the meantime, ATN and OWWA can provide counseling and any other necessary assistance,” he added.

Villanueva (left) at an official function in Antique on Oct 28

Villanueva was posted in Hong Kong in December last year. A career social worker, she took over from her predecessor, Elizabeth Lim Dy, who reached retirement age last November.

Villanueva’s short stay in Hong Kong was not without controversy. Mission for Migrant Workers’ manager, Cynthia Abdon-Tellez, had written to the Consulate early this year to complain about hurting words Villanueva had allegedly used in counseling a pregnant domestic worker.

Tellez told The SUN she did not get a feedback from any of the three officials she had sent the letter to, including Villanueva.

Separately, several Filipino workers who had sought financial help from the DSWD office after being stranded in Hong Kong for months in the first half of the year told The SUN they were subjected to sarcastic comments by Villanueva.

J.R., who was heavily pregnant when she sought financial help from DSWD in May this year, related how she left Villanueva’s office in tears after she was told pointblank that she could not expect any help.

Bakit daw ako nabuntis, sabi ko unplanned pero wanted naman po, siguro nagkamali lang ako ng pag take ng pills,” J.R. said. “Pag-usapan na lang daw namin ng asawa ko ang pagbili ng tiket ko na bago at tungkol sa plano namin para sa anak na, pero huwag daw iasa sa DSWD ang pagbubuntis ko kasi hindi daw sakop ng DSWD ang mga buntis.”

(She asked why I got pregnant, I said it was unplanned but not unwanted, maybe I just made a mistake when taking my pills. She said my husband and I should talk about buying my air ticket and our plans for our child, but not expect DSWD to help because the agency does not look after pregnant women).

J.R. said she was just three months on the way when she first consulted Villanueva, and she was reportedly told to quit because being pregnant is risky for someone like her who had to do manual work, unlike her who was just doing office work when she got pregnant.

Another stranded worker who was in the same chat group as J.R. shared how insignificant she felt when the welfare attaché asked her to open her wallet to prove that she really did not have any money with her.

Unfortunately, the workers were not able to file a formal complaint as they were told shortly after airing their grievances that they could already fly out in a group flight arranged by the Consulate with Philippine Airlines.

The DSWD office in Hong Kong is meant to provide help to migrant workers who are troubled by serious family problems that they can’t manage to handle due to their distance from home.

The attached office at the Consulate is also meant to provide critically needed counseling to workers who are left depressed by material or emotional concerns.

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