MANILA, Apr 2 (Mabuhay) — Coming from different time zones worldwide, thousands of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) joined the miting de avance of presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and vice presidential bet Sara Duterte via zoom and live at the Hilton Hotel here on Friday.

The BBM-Sara tandem reaffirmed its commitment to form a government that will be truly responsive to the needs of the people, especially the OFWs, if elected in next month’s elections.

There are over 10 million Filipinos abroad. Some 1.7 million of the OFWs are registered voters who will be taking part in the absentee voting starting April 10.

In her message, Duterte hailed the Filipino migrant workers for all their hard work and sacrifices.

“Saludo ako sa mga OFW dahil ginagawa ninyo ang isang bagay na hindi ko kayang gawin – ang  iwanan ang pamilya, ang mga anak, lumayo at magtrabaho sa ibang bansa, para mabigyan sila ng magandang buhay,” Duterte said.

She added: “Bilib ako sa tapang nga mga OFWs. Hinaharap ninyo ang lahat ng uri ng panganib sa inyong trabaho. Tinitiis ninyo ang hirap. Balewala sa inyo ang lungkot. At kahit na may sakit, tuloy lang ang trabaho. Walang pahinga, halos walang day-off. At ginagawa ninyo ito hindi para sa inyong mga sarili, kundi para sa inyong mga pamilya.”

Duterte described the OFWs as the “most selfless people among all Filipino workers,” highlighting their sacrifices for the betterment of their own families.

“Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang tapang. Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang paninindigan. Hindi lahat ng tao ay may ganyang lakas ng loob. Hindi lahat ng tao ay handang magsakripisyo para sa kanilang mga pamilya,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of OFWs in the country’s gross domestic product through their remittances that strengthen the value of the Philippine peso and improve the standard of living of Filipino families through their purchasing powers.

Uniteam’s commitment

Duterte said OFWs should be given recognition by the government, and that the entire UniTeam ticket will be behind their aspirations and dreams for them and their families.

“Alam namin ang inyong paghihirap at mga sakripisyo. Alam namin ang inyong mga pangarap, ang inyong mga ipinaglalaban. Naririnig namin ang inyong mga panawagan. Ang mga ito ay aming dadalhin sa aming paglilingkod sa ating mahal na bayan,” she said.

She gave importance to the continuity of the legacy programs of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, which includes the long list of programs implemented for OFWs and their families.

In December last year, President Duterte signed the Republic Act 11641, also known as “An Act Creating the Department of Migrant Workers” which intends to strengthen cooperation among organizations responsible for OFWs.

“We look forward to the operationalization of the Department of Migrant Workers,” Duterte said. “Magsisikap kami na mas madagdagan pa ang mga OFWs one-stop-shop Service Centers sa buong bansa; palalawakin natin ang mga livelihood programs para sa mga OFWs at sa kanilang pamilya katulad ng “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” Program at Livelihood Development Assistance Program para sa mga undocumented OFWs.”

She also highlighted the importance of livelihood, education, unity, and peace – which is also the UniTeam’s campaign battle cry.

Duterte thanked all the OFWs and vowed to protect and watch over their safety by strengthening consulates and embassies to ensure that the migrant workers receive the right benefits from their employers and guidance against abuse.

“Dahil ramdam ng UniTeam ang inyong mga suliranin, pangangailangan at damdamin, makaka-asa ang lahat ng OFWs na kaagapay ninyo kami sa pagsulong ng inyong mga karapatan at tagumpay. Upang mapadali ang katuparan ng inyong pangarap at ng inyong mga pamiliya na darating ang araw na hindi na kayo/tayo magkakawalay pang muli,” she said.

The miting de avance was also attended by Uniteam senatorial bets Mark Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian, Robin Padilla, Jinggoy Estrada, Rodante Marcoleta, Gringo Honasan, Larry Gadon, Harry Roque, Migz Zubiri, Herbert Bautista, and Gilbert Teodoro.  (MNS)

READ NEXT: PRRD: Sara is ‘very good, hardworking’