September 7, 2022
SINGAPORE — President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vowed on Tuesday to improve conditions in the Philippines as a way of thanking Filipino workers in Singapore for their service not only to their own families but also to the entire country.
Marcos praised the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) during his speech before the Filipino community here at the National University of Singapore.
He noted Singapore was the second-highest source of OFW remittances in 2021, generating around $2.2 billion.
“Different faces, but joined together with a single wish — to have a better life not only for loved ones left behind in the Philippines but also for our whole country,” Marcos said in Filipino. “Despite the pandemic, all of you overseas Filipinos, especially those here in Singapore, continue to send aid to your families.”
“In the past year, Singapore was the second highest source of remittances, reaching $2.2 billion. That’s not something to be taken lightly.”
“And if we look at our economy, that’s a big part of our economy. It’s being revived. We don’t go down because of the work, because of the sacrifices of our OFWs,” he added.
In the May elections, Marcos and his running mate, then Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, got a huge number of votes from Filipinos in Singapore.
“That’s why we owe you a big debt of gratitude. So what we’re giving you in return is our working to improve the Philippines,” Marcos said.
“That’s why our economic team, which is before you now, will meet with possible investors who will create jobs in the Philippines. Not only that, they will try to strengthen trade between Singapore and the Philippines. We proactively attract investments in our country in order to accelerate post-pandemic growth and create more jobs in the Philippines,” he added.
Marcos, accompanied by members of the first family and his Cabinet, is in Singapore for the second leg of his first round of state visits.
The presidential delegation arrived in Singapore at 12:45 p.m. on Tuesday, coming from his first state visit to Indonesia.
Marcos is expected to meet with Singaporean leaders and members of the business sector to discuss several topics, including cooperation for counterterrorism and data privacy, and possible investment talks.
OFWs as ambassadors
Marcos also cited the good work of Filipino workers abroad that reflect well on the country. According to him, it seems that OFWs have been acting as ambassadors building a respectable image for Filipinos.
“We see in places where Filipinos work that the locals love them… Although we have ambassadors [in those place], you are all also ambassadors of the Philippines,” Marcos said.
“And really, in your being ambassadors of the Philippines, you are working to give honor to the Philippines. They have a high regard for Filipino workers because of what they see,” he added.
Such a performance, he said, is a big reason for his having an optimistic outlook for the Philippines.
He noted how some people had been asking him why he was optimistic despite the problems the country was facing.
“I said: We have 107 million Filipinos who are very competent, highly skilled, very industrious, very kind, and who loves the Philippines with such warmth. So there is no doubt in my mind that the Philippines can recover from the hardships caused by the pandemic,” Marcos said.
He admitted that a lot of work would still have to be done to make the country better.
But he said Filipinos abroad would somehow attract foreigners who would help them.
Earlier, Marcos told the NUS crowd that more healthcare jobs were available in Singapore and that it would be one of the agreements that would be signed during their meeting with the city-state’s leaders.
It is unclear how many agreements would be signed between Marcos and the Singaporean officials. But two deliverables are being envisioned, according to Ambassador Teresita Daza, who is also the spokesperson of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
According to Daza, the first deliverable is the agreement regarding the Philippines’ fielding of a team to the Counterterrorism Information Facility (CTIF). The second is a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on data privacy and protection cooperation.