His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III met with members of the Filipino Community at the Rizqun International Hotel, in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam as part of the itinerary of his State Visit to Brunei from 1-2 June 2011.
An overflow crowd estimated at more than 1,000 OFWs and their dependents flocked to the Songket Ballroom to warmly welcome the President and his entourage.
The program began with the singing of the national anthem by a choir composed of Filipino faculty members of the Seri Mulia Sarjana School and the opening prayers led by representatives of Filipino religious groups in Brunei: Mr. Henjie San Juan (Catholic group), Ms. Corazon Saway (Christian group), and Mr. Hataman Paraman (Muslim group).
In his welcome remarks, Ambassador Nestor Z. Ochoa recognized the contributions of Filipino organizations who have greatly assisted the Philippine Embassy in providing services for OFWs. He noted that the President's visit to Brunei is expected to open more employment opportunities for OFWs and to enhance business prospects for Filipino companies. He thanked the President for putting his trust and faith in him and gave assurances that the Philippine Embassy will be ready to help all Filipino nationals needing its assistance.
Representing the Filipino Community in Brunei, Mr. Alan Filio noted the projects undertaken by the different Filipino organizations and associations for the benefit of OFWs in Brunei, as well as the financial assistance extended by these groups in support of relief efforts in the Philippines during times of natural calamities. He added that the Filipino Community would like to see the fasterprocessing of certain documents, and government assistance towards reintegrating returning Filipinos and those wishing to go abroad. Lastly, he stated that the Filipino Community fully supported the government's efforts in enhancing ties with Brunei Darussalam.
For his part, the President, who spoke in Filipino, highlighted the government's efforts to assist and repatriate overseas Filipino workers caught in the unrest in the Middle East (i.e. Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya), and natural disasters in Japan. He commended Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario and the Department of Labor and Employment for looking after the welfare of OFWs.
The President also mentioned the current initiatives of his administration:
1. The pocket open skies policy, expansion of the LRT to Bulacan, connecting the Northern Luzon Expressway to the Southern Luzon Expressway, which are all intended to enhance Philippine tourism;
2. Attaining rice sufficiency in 2013;
3. PPP projects such as airports and other infrastructure projects; and
4. The addition of Php3.5 B to the Philhealth budget, resulting in 4.6M families having Philheath coverage.
In closing, the President emphasized the need to sustain the "tuwid na daan" and to give all Filipinos equal opportunities in life. END