By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
HONG KONG—For the second time in almost a year, President Duterte will visit the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong following his participation to the Boao Forum for Asia 2018 in Hainan, China this week.
The President arrived here 11:34 p.m. Tuesday following his participation to the Boao Forum in Asia 2018. He is set to meet around 2,500 members of the Filipino community in the region Thursday evening.
The Chief Executive was received by Philippine Consul General in Hong Kong Antonio Morales and Deputy Consul General Roderico Atienza. Fiona So, Chief Officer (visits) and Honorary Aide-de-Camp Lam Kam-Kwong also welcomed President Duterte.
Duterte, in his pre-departure speech, had said that he will report to the Filipinos living and working at the autonomous territory of China.
“Immediately after the Boao Forum, I shall proceed to Hong Kong, where thousands of our dear countrymen and women have found work,” he said.
“I welcome the opportunity to meet our kababayans (fellowmen), report to them the developments at home and listen to their concerns and their hopes,” he added.
Duterte also assured OFWs that his administration is doing its best to ensure that every Filipino will have a comfortable life.
“As I am here for you, so am I also here for those who have left the country to support and provide a better future for their families,” he said.
“My dream is a comfortable life for every Filipino. My mandate is to secure the interests of our nation and people. My solemn oath is to spare no effort to make these happen as I engage with other nations,” he added.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Manuel Antonio Teehankee said last week that Duterte will meet with members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong, “with welfare being one of the initiatives closest to the heart of the President.”
“He is eager to see and hear first-hand the concerns and the situation of our kababayans in Hong Kong,” he said.
In a report published by the South China Morning Post, it is said that the Hong Kong Police Force is taking no chances with Duterte’s visit as he is set to be “surrounded by wall of force.”
The report, quoting a government source, said that the “threat level to Duterte himself is relatively high, so we will mount a security operation to protect him.”
This is the second time in only 11 months that Duterte will visit OFWs in Hong Kong. He last set foot in the region in May last year after his participation in the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Duterte’s stop in Hong Kong also allowed the President to have a “private time” with his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña and daughter Veronica.
According to the Philippine Embassy in Hong Kong, there are an estimated 220,000 Filipinos in the region, with many of them working in the hotel and restaurant industry or in the households of Hong Kong residents.
“The Filipino community in Hong Kong has been actively partnering with our Consulate General in ensuring the rights and welfare of our kababayans (fellowmen) in Hong Kong are protected and promoted,” the DFA earlier said.
“The community has also been instrumental in promoting enhanced trade relations between the Philippines and Hong Kong and in promoting our country’s investment opportunities and tourist destinations,” it added.