BALANGA City: Bataan Bishop Ruperto Santos on Sunday said he hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will include in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 24 the creation of a Department of Overseas Filipino Workers (DOFW).
“Now is the time to fulfill the President’s promise for the OFWs to have their own department,” according to Santos, chairman of the Episcopal Commission of Migrants and Itinerant People of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines.
The government should appreciate the selfless contribution of workers abroad in improving the economy and for showing to the world that Filipinos are honest, hardworking and God-fearing people, the prelate said.
Santos added that the President can show he is grateful to the OFWs if he makes good on the promise that he will personally take care of them and prosecute those who will abuse and exploit them, Santos said.
“Be grateful to the sacrifices and services of overseas workers who are willing to bear separation and loneliness for the betterment of their families,” the bishop added.
He said Monday’s SONA, Duterte’s second, is and should not be a mere fashion statement but the fulfillment of campaign promises.
“We do not look for appearances but we are after performance, which is the provision of basic needs of our people now,” the bishop added.
Past SONAs saw a parade of designer suits and gowns by congressmen, senators and others who came to hear past leaders deliver their addresses to the nation.
President Duterte has strongly discouraged such apparent flaunting of status and wealth beginning with his first SONA last year.
Aside from care for OFWs, Santos said the basic needs that government should look into are peace and security, the traffic problem and stable and secure jobs for all.
ERNIE B. ESCONDE