Villar vows to bring home stranded OFWs on Day 1 of presidency
By Christina Mendez
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar has reiterated his vow to bring distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) back to the country and provide them with jobs and livelihood opportunities.
In his speech at his campaign rally in Vigan last Sunday night, Villar said this policy would be set into motion on Day One of his presidency.
He promised to establish a country that can provide opportunities to Filipinos so parents do not have to leave their families and children behind in order to work abroad.
Villar strongly believes a dream Philippines can be achieved by investing heavily on developing a “strong entrepreneurial class” by funneling credit to small and medium-scale enterprises.
He is also pushing for labor-intensive industries like tourism and the service industry.
According to records, close to two million Filipinos left the country to work abroad, which roughly translates to 4,500 workers being deployed daily-a record-high in overseas deployment.
Villar has initiated a “Sagip-OFW” program with a helpline through which distressed OFWs and their families can seek assistance. Villar has personally funded the repatriation of hundreds of stranded, deported, abused and troubled OFWs.
Although Villar acknowledges the contribution of OFW remittances to the country, particularly in weathering the international financial crisis, he hopes to steadily reduce the country’s dependence on OFW remittances since an economy anchored on OFW remittances is fundamentally weak.
OFWs remittances continue to rise and give the economy a big boost. Last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported OFW remittances last year reached $17.35 billion, up 5.6 percent despite the global economic crisis.
Meanwhile, Villar pulled away from closest rival Sen. Noynoy Aquino in terms of Facebook fans.
As of early morning of May 4, Villar’s Facebook Fan Page already has 1,355,197 fans, against Aquino’s 1,349,864.
Aquino’s camp meanwhile claimed that their candidate’s Facebook Fan Page account had been hacked late last week allegedly by a rival camp, causing “missing” fans.
Facebook is a popular social networking site with more than 11 million users in the Philippines.
The NP also remained hopeful of getting the support of bigger religious groups that have yet to announce their bets for the country’s top two leaders, after losing the endorsement of evangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy. – With Marvin Sy