Reassures OFWs in Indonesia of options at home during his term
In his first foreign trip as Chief Executive and first visit to Jakarta, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday vowed to make the Philippines more conducive for tourism and investment and create more jobs at home so Filipinos wouldn’t have to chase opportunities abroad.
In Indonesia for three days in his first state visit, Mr. Marcos nevertheless lauded overseas Filipino workers in Jakarta and elsewhere in the Philippines’ southern neighbor for becoming “valued members of the local society.”
“We made sure to visit on a Sunday on the day-off of the Pinoys here,” the President said, as he looked forward to meeting with Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo to strengthen their two countries’ bilateral relationship and partnership as well as people-to-people ties.
But not losing sight of a campaign promise that helped sweep him to power via landslide in the May 9 elections, Mr. Marcos stressed he brought along his economic managers and House Speaker Martin Romualdez to show OFWs “that the country will rise again.”
“Your success here makes us proud back home. We dream that the day will come when Filipinos will only travel abroad to work because it is their choice, not because they don’t have any other option. Ito ang aking pangako na tutuparin ko bilang bago niyong Pangulo (this is the promise I will fulfill as your new President),” he said.
Before he left, the President designated Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio as officer-in-charge while he is in Indonesia and Singapore for state visits.
Marcos’ Special Order No. 75 dated Sept. 2 mandates Duterte to “oversee the general administration of the Executive Department” while the President “is outside the Republic of the Philippines from September 4-7, 2022.”
In a related development, the Philippine government will “proceed with deliberation” on the case of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipino worker who has been on death row for 12 years in Indonesia over drug-related charges.
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said this when asked if President Marcos will visit Veloso, who remains in detention in Yogyakarta.
Cruz-Angeles said Veloso’s case may be tackled in meetings between Filipino and Indonesian officials but did not give further details. She also assured that the President is “aware” of the appeal made by Veloso’s parents to negotiate with Widodo for clemency.
Mr. Marcos arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport around 1:35 p.m. PST for his inaugural state visit to Indonesia, after Widodo invited him shortly after his inauguration last July.
The presidential delegation was on board Philippine Airlines PR001 including First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, his son, Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
Members of the Marcos economic team, among them Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, and Bangko Sentral of the Philippines (BSP) Governor Felipe Medalla, were also part of the delegation.
“Together, we will make the Philippines more conducive to tourism, for investment, at the same time creating more jobs for the economy. I am fully committed to revitalizing our country’s agricultural industry,” the President, who is concurrent Agriculture Secretary, said of his delegation.
Mr. Marcos thanked the Filipino community for their love of the country and their sacrifices abroad, assuring them the new Department of Migrant Workers would be fully operational in 2023 under Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople.
“We Filipinos share with the Indonesians a common cultural heritage. I am very happy to see that this kinship and close people-to-people ties continue to endure as shown by the vitality of the Filipino community here,” the President said.
“Napakalaki ng respeto ng mga Indonesians sa Pilipino dahil sa inyo (Indonesians have great respect for Filipinos because of you). You have become valued members of the local society,” he said.
Mr. Marcos noted that not all OFWs abroad chose to work away from home.
“Workers are abroad not because it’s a matter of choice, but they are away from our familiar and beautiful shores constrained to leave loved ones due to the lack of opportunities back home,” he said.
“That’s why I, together with the Cabinet, am fully committed to making sure that every Filipino’s economic, social, and cultural potential is fully realized in our own country,” the President added.
Before his departure, the President faced the public at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 to reiterate the highlights of his trip, which include strengthening the country’s bilateral relations with Indonesia and promoting investments in the Philippines.
It was followed by departure rites led by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Lt. Gen. Bartolome Vicente Bacarro.
Also saluting their Commander-in-Chief during the ceremony were major service commanders such as Navy Vice Commander Rear Admiral Caesar Bernard Valencia, Army Chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., Air Force Chief Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony Canlas, and Philippine National Police Deputy Chief for Administration Lt. Gen. Jose Chiquito Malayo.
Marcos Jr. also shared his plans to discuss agriculture matters—which were not part of the initial advisory regarding his trip—with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who invited him for the visit.
“Beyond that, we will also be seeking the partnership and the help of our friends in Indonesia from the President and our friends in Indonesia for investment in the areas where we see that they can be of assistance, especially in the critical areas we have identified them in agriculture and in energy,” he said.
From Jakarta, Mr. Marcos will proceed to Singapore on Tuesday for a two-day state visit that includes a meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr. Marcos and Lee are expected to witness the signing of agreements on counter-terrorism and data privacy.