THE UniTeam presidential-vice presidential tandem of former Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte on Friday night assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) of a better life and protection as they praised them for their sacrifices, integrity, hard work and honesty.
The leading tandem in the coming polls held a dialogue in what was billed as a miting de avance with OFWs around the world at the grand ballroom of Hilton Manila in Pasay City.
The UniTeam candidates lauded millions of overseas workers for their contribution to the economy.
Duterte said the selfless OFWs are helping their families as well as the economy through their fund remittances.
“Sa aking palagay, ang mga OFW na siguro ang pinaka-selfless na uri ng mga manggagawang Filipino. Sila ‘yung ang iniisip ay hindi ang kanilang pansariling kaligayahan kundi ang kaligayahan ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay. Sila ‘yung nangangarap hindi para sa kanilang sarili kundi para sa kanilang pamilya,” Duterte told the crowd, recalling that she and his two brothers, Davao City Rep. Paulo Duterte and Davao City Vice Mayor Baste Duterte, went to Macau and Hong Kong last February 2018 to personally thank OFWs for supporting President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
The OFWs are from Thailand, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Cambodia, Taiwan, Turkey, Cyprus, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Armenia, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Qatar, Jeddah, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Israel, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Canada, Chile and many more.
Like Duterte, Marcos said he is dreaming that someday Filipinos will no longer leave their families to work abroad just to ensure a better future for them.
Marcos promised to strengthen protection and benefits for OFWs whenever they are abroad and in the country, if they get elected.
“Sana dumating ang araw na hindi na kailangang umalis ang ating mga kababayan para makahanap ng magandang trabaho. Sana makauwi na ang ating mga kababayan at makapiling na ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay,” Marcos said in his speech.
Marcos and Duterte said the government should always ensure the protection of OFWs in foreign countries in general.
Mayor Duterte said the many sacrifices of OFWs are the reasons why they are called “modern-day heroes.”
“Saludo ako sa mga OFW dahil ginagawa ninyo ang isang bagay na hindi ko kayang gawin. Ang iwanan ang pamilya, ang mga anak, lumayo at magtrabaho sa ibang bansa, para mabigyan sila ng magandang buhay,” Mayor Duterte stressed.
“Bilib ako sa tapang nga mga OFWs. Hinaharap ninyo ang lahat ng uri ng panganib sa inyong trabaho. Tinitiis ninyo ang hirap. Balewala sa inyo ang lungkot. At kahit na may sakit, tuloy lang ang trabaho. Walang pahinga. Halos walang day-off. At ginagawa ninyo ito hindi para sa inyong mga sarili, kundi para sa inyong mga pamilya,” she added.
“Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang tapang. Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang paninindigan. Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang lakas ng loob. Hindi lahat ng tao ay handang magsakripisyo para sa kanilang mga pamilya. Sakripisyo. Sa malaking sakripisyo ng mga OFW, nakakaranas ng kaunting ginhawa ang inyong mga pamilya sa Pilipinas,” Mayor Duterte also said.
“Uulitin ko ang sinabi ko sa mga OFWs sa Macau at Hong Kong noong 2018 – saludo ako sa inyo. Nararapat lamang na mabigyan ng pansin ng pamahalaan ang mga OFWs,” Mayor Duterte said.
There were also messages delivered by UniTeam senatorial candidates Herbert Bautista, Harry Roque, Gibo Teodoro, Jinggoy Estrada, Larry Gadon, Rodante Marcoleta, Win Gatchalian, Mark Villar, Gringo Honasan, Robin Padilla and Migz Zubiri, and performances by Filipino rap legend Andrew E, rock star Mike Hanopol, Aegis band, Renz Verano, Ima Castro and Beverly Salviejo and Toni Gonzaga.
UniTeam senatorial candidate Loren Legarda delivered a recorded video message.
Randy Santiago and Bayani Agbayani hosted the event.
Actress Elizabeth ‘La Oropesa’ Oropesa and actress-comedienne Ai-Ai delas Alas gave their messages of support to the Marcos-Duterte tandem during the miting de avance.
They expressed solidarity with the OFWs in different parts of the country.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data showed that cash remittances coursed through banks by OFWs rose by 5.1 percent to $31.418 billion in 2021 from $29.903 billion in 2020 despite the fact that the coronavirus pandemic affected the economies of the workers’ host countries.
The 2021 inflows even exceeded the 2019 pre-pandemic remittance level of $30.133 billion.
In December alone, overseas Filipinos sent home almost $3 billion.
The United States was the biggest source of inflows last year, followed by Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Japan, UK, UAE, Canada, Taiwan, Qatar and South Korea.
The remittance figures represented funds coursed through the banking system.
These do not include billions of dollars more in personal cash transfers like money sent through OFW colleagues, friends or relatives who flew home.
The UniTeam miting de avance with OFWs followed successful rallies held in the Davao region and central Mindanao, where the BBM-Sara tandem attracted mammoth crowds estimated at least 100,000.