MANILA — A group, represented by a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW), expressed its gratitude to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for looking after the welfare and safety of overseas workers.
“The program and the event happened dahil sa malaking pasasalamat namin kay presidente (because of our gratitude to the president). Ang feeling kasi ng mga OFW is, the president is our hope, the hope of the OFWs so ngayon ang lakas ng loob na lumalabas ang mga OFW using each other’s voice (The OFWs feel that the president is our hope, that’s why we come out to support each other),” said Gemma Sotto, head of Global Police Community Relations International and organizer of “Araw ng Pasasalamat sa mga OFW”, in an interview.
Duterte attended the event “Araw ng Pasasalamat sa mga OFW” held at the Armed Forces of the Philippines stadium in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City last Friday.
Sotto said the event was held to show their fellow OFWs that the government and their fellow OFWs support them.
“This event is for the OFW to know that their fellow OFWs remember them na nandito kaming kapwa OFW, na mahal namin sila (we are here for our fellow OFWs). Just expressing na nagpapasalamat kami sa kanila (This is our way of thanking them),” Sotto said.
Sotto also expressed desire to hold the event every year as their way of acknowledging the efforts of current and former overseas Filipino workers.
“Hopefully po (to hold the event annually). Actually po this is the first time, as we go through the program, sana marami ang mag-join and encourage to do this kind of event para sa mga OFWs kasi marami ang umuwi just for this event, ‘yung mga leaders po namin. Kasi ako, an OFW for 21 years, alam ko how they miss our country, how they miss the Philippines (We hope to hold the event annually. Many of our OFWs went home just for this event. I am a former OFW myself and I know how they miss our country),” she said.
“Dahil po sa pamamaraan ni presidente, ang kauna-unahang presidente (President Duterte is the first president) to let us feel that we are being loved, we are being remembered,” Sotto added.
The event showcased a job fair for OFWs and former OFWs who would like to apply for jobs here and abroad.
Some 4,000 OFWs were invited to the event which offered livelihood programs and scholarships to qualified participants and their kin. A house and lot, several motorcycles, appliances and sacks of rice were also raffled to participants.
A one-stop shop that offered services of various government offices such as the Philippine National Police, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority was also set up.
Duterte announced during the event last Friday the creation this year of the Department of OFW, which would handle matters concerning Filipino workers abroad.
Aside from the new department, Duterte said he would build hospitals specifically for Filipino migrant workers. (PNA)