WARM WELCOME. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is mobbed by members of the Filipino community at Fairmont Hotel Jakarta on Sunday (Sept. 4, 2022), as seen on the giant screen. The President will be in Indonesia until Sept. 6 and in Singapore Sept. 6-7. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Sept 5 (Mabuhay) — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday lauded Filipinos in Indonesia for their “good standing” in the country and thanked them for their contributions to sustaining trade, tourism and people to people links between the two countries.

Marcos made this remark in his speech during his visit to the Filipino community in a hotel in Jakarta, his first official activity during his three-day state visit to Indonesia from Sept. 4-6.

“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 in Indonesia. Napakalaki ang respeto ng mga Indonesian sa mga Pilipino dahil sa inyo (Indonesians have a huge respect for Filipinos because of you),” he said.

He also hailed Filipinos for their successes in Indonesia, citing how they have made their fellowmen back home “very, very proud.”

“You have become valued members of the local society. As investors, as company directors, business consultants, lawyers, accountants, engineers, teachers, and technical staff,” he said.

“Every time we hear news of yet another success by our OFWs [overseas Filipino workers] we are always saying thank you for the glory you bring to our country, for the good name that you burnish and polish of our country while you are abroad. Iba talaga ang galing ng Pinoy saan man sa mundo (Filipinos really stand out in any part of the world),” he added.

Marcos acknowledged that some Filipinos opt to work abroad due to “the lack of opportunities back home.”

He said his administration will remain committed to ensuring that every Filipino’s economic, social and cultural potential is fully realized in their home country so that they will decide to leave the country to take advantage of new opportunities and not because they have no other choice.

“We dream that the day will come that Filipinos will only travel abroad to work because it is their choice not because they have no other options. Together, we’ll make the Philippines more conducive for tourism, for investment, at the same time creating more jobs for the economy and as you all may know I am fully committed to revitalizing our country’s agricultural industry,” Marcos, who is also concurrent Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, said.

He vowed to prioritize the welfare and rights of OFWs around the world under the soon to be fully-operational Department of Migrant Workers.

“Katuwang ng Department of Foreign Affairs at ating mga embahada at konsulado, itataguyod ng Department of Migrant Workers ang kapakanan at karapatang ng lahat ng OFWs sa buong mundo. Ito ang aking pangako na tutuparin bilang bago ninyong Pangulo (In partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and our embassies and consulates, the Department of Migrant Workers will promote the welfare and rights of all OFWs around the world. This is my promise to fulfill as your new President),” he said.

Marcos also thanked Filipinos in Indonesia for giving him overwhelming support during the presidential campaign and elections.

In a separate press briefing, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said Marcos’ decision to schedule his meeting with the Filipino community in Indonesia as his “primary agenda” shows his great concern for the interests of all OFWs.

“I think it’s symbolic na sa unang araw pa lang, gusto niya na ang una niyang maka-meet iyong ating OFWs (I think it’s symbolic that on his first day here, he wants to meet OFWs first). So it tells a lot about his concern for our workers,” she said.

Ople is set to meet with leaders of the Filipino community to discuss the flagship programs and projects of the newly established department.

She also expressed hope to get in touch with OFWs to solicit their suggestions and listen to their concerns.

“Hopefully, the Department of Migrant Workers would be able to make a difference in several of the reform areas that we need to address,” she said.

Indonesia is home to around 7,451 Filipinos, according to government data. (MNS)