By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

MEET-AND-GREET. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. meets with the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur during the first day of his state visit to Malaysia on Tuesday (July 25, 2023). In his speech, Marcos vowed to protect the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Malaysia that he would protect and promote their rights and welfare as he seeks to strengthen the Philippines’ ties with the host country.

“Unang-una, dahil napakaraming Pilipino rito, at kailangan nating tiyakin na lahat kayo ay naaalagaan at lahat kayo ay maayos ang kabuhayan at nabibigyan ng mga pagkakataon (First and foremost, there are so many Filipinos here. We have to make sure that you are well-taken care of, have decent livelihood, and have good opportunities),” Marcos told the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

“Kaya’t ito po, isa na ito na ating pag-iikot upang siyempre kailangan nating pagtibayin ang relasyon ng Pilipinas at saka ng Malaysia (That’s why we are here. We have to bolster the relations between the Philippines and Malaysia).”

There are nearly a million Filipinos in Malaysia, mostly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), according to the figures released by the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Marcos acknowledged the OFWs’ crucial role in fostering good relations with other countries and maintaining the Philippines’ good reputation overseas.

“Kaya naman kailangan talaga kayong pasalamatan, dahil ang naging reputasyon ng Pilipinas ay gumanda nang gumanda dahil sa performance na ginagawa ninyo at inyong pinapakita sa mga taga-rito. Sa mga taga-Malaysia, kung saan man, taga-Middle East, kung saan sila, taga-Europe, sa America (That’s why we have to thank you because the Philippines’ reputation has increasingly improved because of your good performance. To you Filipinos in Malaysia and even in the Middle East, Europe or America, and elsewhere in the world),” he said.

The President also noted that apart from their contributions to the Philippines through their remittances, overseas Filipinos are also a key player in the host countries’ economic growth.

He assured the Filipino community in Malaysia that his administration would protect their interest and address the issues they are facing.

“Lahat-lahat ay sinasabi, ‘Ang galing ng Pilipino. Hindi kasing ginhawa ‘yung buhay namin kung wala ‘yung Pilipinong tumutulong sa amin. Marami kaming nakikitang Pilipino na sumisikat dahil ang sisipag, ang huhusay, honest, maaasahan (Everyone is saying, ‘Filipinos are competent. Our life would not be comfortable without Filipinos helping us. We see many Filipinos rising in their fields because of their diligence, competence, and honesty),” Marcos said.

He said his administration is focused on achieving its plans for the country, attracting more foreign investments, taming inflation, and boosting agricultural productivity to ensure food security.

“Kailangan natin ng malaking-malaking investment. Kaya’t nag-iikot kami sa buong mundo at ipinapaalam natin sa lahat ng ating mga kaibigan at sa lahat ng ating mga magiging kaibigan na nandiyan na ang Pilipinas, na maayos na ang takbo ng Pilipinas, handa na tayo para sila ay mag-invest (We need huge investments. That’s why we are going to other countries to let them know that the Philippines is here and is ready for their investments),” he said.

Marcos arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon for a state visit.

During his stay in Malaysia, Marcos will have a royal audience with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to identify new areas of synergy and strengthen people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

He is also expected to push for the advancement of agriculture, tourism, and digital economic cooperation between Manila and Kuala Lumpur.

He will also meet with the Malaysian business community. (PNA)