Diokno: ‘Kung masipag ka lang, hindi ka magugutom sa Pilipinas’

Aika Rey

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Diokno: ‘Kung masipag ka lang, hindi ka magugutom sa Pilipinas’
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno makes the remark when asked if the Philippines can absorb overseas Filipino workers if they return home

MANILA, Philippines – A day after Labor Day, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said Filipino workers only need to be hardworking so they won’t go hungry.

“Alam mo, sa tingin ko kung masipag ka lang, hindi ka magugutom sa Pilipinas. Kung masipag ka lang,” he said in a press briefing on Wednesday, May 2.

(You know, I think if you’re hardworking, you won’t go hungry in the Philippines. If you’ll just be hardworking.)

Diokno made the comment after he was asked whether overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will only “be hungry” if they come back to the Philippines.

This was in the context of whether the country can absorb those who want to come home because of the diplomatic row between the Philippines and Kuwait.

Diokno said the Philippines can afford to hire the OFWs because of the jobs available in the government’s Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

“We need more warm bodies. Let’s put it that way, given our Build, Build, Build program. We need more welders. We need more electricians. We need more engineers. Some teachers, yes, we can absorb them,” he said.

The budget chief added that the social cost of deploying OFWs should always be taken into consideration.

“You know, when you talk of the OFWs, you have to consider the social cost of deploying abroad. Family… cost in the family, etc. Being harassed…. Can you imagine how much that causes members of the family being harassed?” he added.

Diokno also said the Philippine government can afford to shoulder the airfare of OFWs who want to return home, and give them financial aid as well.

“We can afford. I don’t have the numbers but we can provide, if they want to come back,” he said.

The Kuwaiti government declared Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa “persona non grata” over the Philippine embassy’s rescue of abused OFWs. The Philippine government apologized to the Gulf state over the incident.

President Rodrigo Duterte then urged OFWs in Kuwait to “come home,” an appeal criticized as “reckless.” (READ: Leave Kuwait? Domestic helpers willing, but not the skilled workers– Rappler.com

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Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.