OFWs on Aquino SONA: ‘What about us?’
MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos across the world weighed in on President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.
In his 6th and final address before the joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, Aquino discussed the achievements of his administration in the last 5 years. (READ: Aquino: 440,000 OFWs came home, unemployment lower)
Aquino said that the total number of OFWs has dropped from 9.51 million in 2011 to 9.07 M in 2014, citing an increase in job opportunities in the motherland.
He noted that the domestic job sector has significantly improved as the country had a 6.8% unemployment rate in the previous year, the lowest in the last decade he noted. Yet the Philippines still maintains the highest unemployment rate in Southeast Asia
Aquino added that “permanenteng trabaho ang nalikha natin; hindi tayo nag-hire ng magwawalis ng kalsada tuwing survey period lang, para kargahan ang resulta.” (We have created permanent jobs; we did not hire street sweepers during the survey period to inflate the results)
Aquino also did not acknowledge the role of former Vice President Jejomar Binay III as advisor of OFW concerns.
OFW issues ranked last in a Rappler survey that asked netizens what they wanted Aquino to discuss in his last SONA, with 2.75% of the 1,508 saying they wanted OFW concerns discussed. (READ: POLL: Aquino's last SONA)
Aquino’s SONA solicited mixed reactions from the global Filipino community.
On Twitter, Indai Burandai agreed with Aquino’s latest report on job creation, telling fellow OFWs that “marami pong magandang naitulong ang gobyerno natin ngayon [sa trabaho] (Our government has done a lot of good in helping us find jobs)”.
On Facebook page Overseas Filipino Workers Corner, OFW Topek Salazar called out the Makabayan lawmakers who booed Aquino after his speech, saying “wala naman silang naitutulong (They aren’t contributing anything good anyway).”
Salazar added that Aquino “is the closest perfect president you can get; he deserves credit for good things he has done for our country.”
'What about us?'
Others didn’t speak so well of Aquino’s accomplishments.
In response to Aquino’s statement on fewer OFWs as of last year, Arnold Padilla tweeted that “decline in [the number of OFWs] likely more due to global crisis than domestic job creation.”
Shit Daid slammed the Aquino administration, stating that “every single OFW who has sent money back for their families has done more than [Aquino].”
Many OFWs said they feel they were neglected in the President’s last SONA.
Prior to the President’s speech, OFW Bhing Comiso commented on a photo on Facebook page Blas Ople Policy Center, demanding that “i-acknowledge [ni Aquino] ang ambag ng mga OFW sa ekonomiya ng bansa (Aquino acknowledge the contributions of OFWs to the country’s economy).”
United Arab Emirates-based OFW Marklaurencetan Mercado said that he only wished that Aquino would acknowledge all OFWs, as they are a driving force in the economy. Human trafficking, a problem many overseas Filipinos face, was also not mentioned in the SONA. (READ: Where's Mary Jane? Aquino's SONA silent on human trafficking)
EJ Clamor tweeted “bakit ‘yung mga OFW? Hindi man lang napasalamatan? (What about the OFWs? Why didn’t he thank them?)” – Rappler.com
Miguel Sevidal is a Rappler Intern