MANILA, Philippines – If Vice President Leni Robredo becomes the next Philippine president, she plans to create one-stop migration centers in key provinces, cities, and municipalities – an initiative patterned after a center serving overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in her bailiwick Naga City.
Virtually speaking to over 700 OFWs backing her presidential bid on Friday, February 18, Robredo outlined her platform designed to ensure that under her administration, Filipinos would end up working abroad by choice, not out of necessity due to lack of opportunities at home.
One of Robredo’s proposals is to set up migration centers nationwide, where families left behind by OFWs can easily seek assistance from the government and guarantee their continued communication with their loved ones abroad.
This is an initiative similar to the Migrant Resource Center in Naga City, where Robredo’s late husband Jesse Robredo was a longtime mayor before he was appointed as chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
“Itong one-stop migration resource center, ito yung lalabas na parang magiging hub siya not just in ensuring na may koneksyon yung mga families left behind sa OFW, pero making sure na pati yung families left behind natutulungan…hindi lang to cope with the social costs, pero natutulungan sa financial preparation,” said Robredo.
(This one-stop migration resource center, this would become like a hub not just in ensuring families left behind would have a connection with OFWs, but also in making sure the families left behind are given assistance to cope with the social costs and financial preparation.)
“Meron nito sa Naga (There is a center like this in Naga)… It is easily replicable in many other places,” said the lone female presidential candidate.
She also proposed to create an OFW reintegration pension fund and reintegration pathways that would ensure those who would choose to return to the Philippines after years of working abroad would gain the necessary skills and knowledge to find jobs at home.
Robredo’s push to bring to the rest of the country the lauded projects and policy principles that Naga City has been known for is an overarching theme in her presidential run.
She vows to get rid of the “old and rotten” politics that has plagued the country for generations by leading a clean and excellent government that involves even ordinary Filipinos at every step of the decision-making process.
It’s a homage to the tsinelas leadership or the accessible and people-centered brand of governance that Jesse Robredo espoused when he led Naga City. He received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2000 for his achievements as Naga, the first Filiipno mayor to receive such recognition.
Wooing the OFW vote
Robredo also told her OFW supporters that her promise to lead an honest government would help eradicate corruption and attract more investors to take a chance on the Philippines. This would then pave the way to the creation of more jobs that OFWs can take instead of working overseas.
“Mahusay naman ang mga Pilipino. At kung tapat ang gobyerno, lalong lalago ang ating ekonomiya. Malilikha dito ang maayos na trabaho at matutumbasan ng tamang sahod at benepisyo ang husay ng Pilipino,” said Robredo.
(Filipinos are excellent. And when the government is honest, our economy would prosper. Jobs would be created here, and their salaries and benefits would match the capabilities of Filipinos.)
To help counter the perennial problem of OFWs being abused by their foreign employers, Robredo said she would move to review and strengthen bilateral agreements on labor witho other nations.
Robredo said she would even consider preventing OFWs from working in certain countries if they do not forge bilateral agreements with the Philippines, aiming to protect the rights of Filipinos there.
“Na kung hindi sila willing pumasok sa mga bilateral agreements, baka mas mabuti na i-review natin kung magpapadala pa ba tayo… sa bansa nila, considering hindi natin sila kayang protektahan,” she said.
(That if they won’t be willing to enter into bilateral agreements with us, perhaps it would be better to review our policy of sending people to their country, considering that we would not be able to protect them there.)
Robredo needs to work hard to woo OFWs in the 2022 elections, where some 1.69 million votes from the sector are up for grabs.
In the 2016 vice presidential polls, Robredo was just the third choice for overseas Filipinos, with her rival and now presidential race front runner Ferdinand Marcos Jr winning the OFW vote, followed by former senator Alan Peter Cayetano.
Marcos garnered the highest number of votes for vice president in the Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East and Africa in 2016, while Robredo won only in North and Latin America. – Rappler.com