By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte is going to play Santa Claus to a number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and will host a series of Christmas parties for them in Malacañang before the year ends.
Duterte made the announcement when he graced the annual “Pamaskong Salubong Para sa OFW” of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Clark, Pampanga for the repatriated OFWs from Qatar Thursday night.
However, Duterte explained that he cannot meet them all at once due to the number of returning OFWs which, in his estimate, are around 5,000.
“Kasi gusto kong mag-party tayo kaya lang kung limang libo, mag-beach party na lang tayo sa Pasig [River]. Hindi tayo magkasya diyan sa [Malacañang] Limang-libo, saan ko kayo ilagay (I want for us to have a party but if you’re going to be around 5,000, then let’s just have a beach party in Pasig River. We won’t fit in Malacañang. Where would I put you)?” Duterte jested.
“Alam kong gusto ninyong umuwi na muna. It could be after [Christmas] na lang (I know you want to go home first. Let’s just do it after Christmas). We divide the number. Schedule na lang, one libo per meeting (Let’s schedule it, a thousand of you per meeting),” he added.
Duterte then asked DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III to order his regional directors to set a date when the OFWs can go to Malacañang to party.
President Duterte welcomed 34 OFWs repatriated from Qatar in Clark, Pampanga. However, they had to wait for the President for around two hours as he was attending a prior event also in Clark.
The President, however, made their wait worth it as he led in the distribution of Christmas gifts which included cash and appliances.
According to the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), eight OFWs received P50,000 cash each, while another eight received appliances worth P10,000 each.
Five OFWs received appliances worth P3,000 each, while 12 OFWs received special Christmas gifts.
Four OFWs, meanwhile, received I-DOLE cards which allow OFWs to do away with the long and tedious process of applying for the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) that they need to secure.
Duterte said that he will explain how the OFWs should use the cash during the Christmas parties in Malacañang as he would hate to see them waste their money.
“Para (So) we get to talk to you and give you the fundamentals, the rules kung papaano gamitin iyong pera. Ito pera na ito ng lahat ng Pilipino. Kasali na kayo doon sa nag-contribute ng pera na iyan (on how to use the money. This is the money of all Filipinos, including you),” he said.
“‘Pag nakita kita doon sa casino, [expletive], [expletive], papatayin—Hindi, biro lang iyon (I will kill you. No, I’m just kidding,” Duterte jested.
Duterte, meanwhile, said the Filipino workforce is needed in the country especially now that the government is into building infrastructures to alleviate the traffic situation and improve market access to provinces.
“Ang Pilipinas ngayon nangailangan ng maraming (The country needs) artisans–construction, professional plumber, electricians,” he said.
“And even those trying to build—meron ngayong gagawin sa Maynila dalawang bridges (two bridges will be constructed in Manila) and they require, you know, expertise,” he added.