President Duterte back from three-swing Middle East visit, vows repatriation assistance for OFWs

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, April 17, vowed that government will provide assistance for the repatriation and livelihood of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), as he welcomed more than 100 amnesty availees from Saudi Arabia.

“We will continue to provide… lahat ng gustong umuwi. Lahat ng gustong umuwi na Pilipino doon, makakauwi. Gastusan natin ‘yan,” he said in his speech at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport .

The Chief Executive arrived in Manila early Monday morning following his state visits to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of Bahrain, and State of Qatar, which he tagged as his “most productive trip ever.”

Shortly before his arrival, 138 Filipinos, including 63 women, 55 men and 20 children, returned to the country after availing of Saudi Arabia’s amnesty program.

“We have an ongoing program for the repatriation of our distressed nationals. Pinapangako ko ‘yan sa inyo. Gagawa ‘yan natin araw-araw. We will have to spend money. I will look for the money,” he said, promising that the OFWs will be given primary importance.

In addition, Duterte said the government will provide capital for those who wish to start a business.

“Magbigay kami ng, nagbubuhos ako dito billion. Mag-aral o turuan kayo mag-aral ng business ninyo. Tailoring, mapa-bakery. Tapos bibigyan kayo ng capital,” he said, telling OFWs to go to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offices in their respective regions.

The repatriated workers also received 5,000 pesos from President Duterte and another 5,000 pesos from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

At the same time, the President said he has directed relevant government agencies to assist the OFWs as they “turn a new chapter” of their life.

Meanwhile, the Chief Executive also recognized in his speech the Middle East as region of great importance to the Philippines.

“It is the home of the largest number of Filipino Workers Overseas. It is our partner for our conventional energy needs,” Duterte said, adding that the region is an emerging source of broader two way-trade and investments.

According to the President, Middle East is “very much, more than willing really to help the Filipinos.”

He said it is the national interest of the country “that we maintain more than just a good relation, relations between the country.”

“It is the national interest to realize all of us na merong more than a million Filipino diyan. And that is why in every state, and for every head of state that I talk to, iniistress ko ‘yan that there is so much at stake here and that we are very interested to say your nation’s stable, trouble-free and a good neighbor for everybody,” he said.

According to the President, Philippines and Saudi Arabia agreed that it is in the interest of both nations to uphold the welfare and well-being of Filipino workers.

“This is an area of partnership that we are keen on making greater strides,” he said.

The President said the government will seek permission for the establishment of a small general hospital to cater to all the health needs of Filipinos, noting that a number of OFWS needs medical attention.

“Nung pinapadala ng mga Pilipino dito sa bayan natin, malaki masyado. It goes beyond, it contributes to the gross national product. And it has played a crucial part in the economy. Importante na babayaran naman natin sila ng kaunti and so if it is, find it, na papayag ‘yung mga gobyerno nila, magtatayo tayo ng ospital doon,” he said.

Before going home to Davao, the President went to San Jose, Batangas to visit the wake of Second Lieutenant Estelito Saldua Jr. ###PND