MANILA: Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced on Wednesday his administration would foster stronger ties with countries that host overseas Filipinos to ensure their safety and welfare.
Nearly 2 million migrant workers are key drivers of the Philippine economy and a main source of the country’s foreign reserves.
Often referred to as “modern-day heroes,” Marcos said overseas Filipinos “fuel the engine of progress” in the Philippines. They sent around $36 billion in personal remittances last year, making up about 8.9 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to central bank data.
“We understand the challenges that you faced being far from your loved ones, adjusting to new cultures and overcoming barrier(s),” Marcos said in a video message broadcast to mark Migrant Workers’ Day in the Philippines.
“That’s why this administration will continue to foster stronger ties with countries that host our migrant workers, ensuring safety, welfare and well-being.”
Nearly a quarter of overseas Filipinos, or OFWs, work and live in Saudi Arabia, followed by the UAE, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Singapore and Qatar.
“In every corner of the globe, you have left an indelible mark that uplifted both your host countries and our nation in the process,” Marcos said, adding that their sacrifices had “nurtured dreams, elevated livelihoods, and fueled the engine of progress” in the Philippines.
The Philippines celebrates Migrant Workers’ Day every June 7 in commemoration of enacting the 1995 Migrant Workers’ Act, which introduces standards for the protection and welfare of those working abroad, their families and overseas Filipinos in distress.
In 2021, former president Rodrigo Duterte signed a law establishing the Department of Migrant Workers, which is tasked with overseeing policies protecting OFWs.
The DMW’s Secretary Susan Ople announced on Wednesday training and mentorship programs for OFWs with the Department of Trade and Industry to help Filipino migrant workers start their own businesses once they return to home.
“Our OFWs contribute to our economy through their dollar remittances but at some point in their lives, they would also need to come home and create sustainable sources of income through entrepreneurship, sound investments or by landing a better job here at home,” Ople said.
“We want them to come back with excitement in their hearts on what the future holds for them and their families, through meaningful partnerships across the government bureaucracy and with NGOs and private companies serving as their mentors and cheerleaders.”