Duterte asks OFWs to give him time to fix PH's woes

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(CNN Philippines, May 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte asks Filipino workers (OFW) in Hong Kong to give him time to fix issues ailing the country so they can go home with no worries.

"I would like you to know that I am really trying my very best, kaming lahat [all of us]," he told a crowd of overseas Filipino workers in Hong Kong on Saturday.

"Give me time. Three to four years… Four years okay talaga tayo [we will be okay]... As I say, I will not allow my country to go to the dogs. With that kind of situation, mga three to four years pwede na kayong makauwi niyan [you can go home then]. Invest in some business," he added.

Efforts exerted to ease burden on OFWs

President Duterte stressed that the administration is doing all it can to make life more convenient for OFWs.

He said he would work with China to bring projects into fruition.

"I have to fly to Beijing, wish me luck. But one thing is very certain actually, China in all good faith wants to help us.... At saka sila walang hinihingi. Walang kondisyones wala basta tulong lang kami. Maraming pera eh. And the generosity of delivers. Dapat pasalamatan natin. So I hope that everything you, dito, magtrabaho lang kayo."

[Translation: I have to fly to Beijing, wish me luck. But one thing is very certain actually, China in all good faith wants to help us.... And they are not asking for anything in return. No conditions, nothing but help. They have money.  And the generosity of delivers. We have to thank them. So I hope everything you (do) here, continue working.]

Duterte said his goal was to "provide employment," and he would not give up on the fight against illegal drugs and corruption.

"Sabi ko nga I put at stake the presidency itself, my life and my honor. Talagang tutuparin ko 'yan."

[Translation: I have said I put at stake the presidency itself, my life and my honor. I will honor that.]

Duterte mentioned that he wanted the government to have minimal intervention in the lives of OFWs.

"Gusto ko the least intervention sa buhay ninyo ng gobyerno. Ayaw ko 'yang maraming regulasyon kasi diyan ang papasok and magtayo ako ng bangko, OFW bank para diretso na."

[Translation: I want the government to have minimal intervention in your lives. I do not want a lot of regulations so I want an OFW bank so there will be direct transations.]

He mentioned he wanted to convert the Philippine Postal Bank into an OFW bank – which the government was in the process of acquiring.

He clarified that such a change would have to pass through Congress as it could not be done through a mere executive order.

Duterte also spoke about the issue concerning the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), or what is sometimes referred to as an "exit pass," which OFWs are required to present upon exit from the country to prove that they are bona fide OFWs.

In an interview with members of the media after the meeting with the Filipino community, Duterte said he would ask Labor Secretary Bello to study the issue, saying, "There has to be an aberration somewhere in the system."

Duterte said the government would also crack down on illegal recruiters.

"We need an agency dedicated just to regulate itong mga recruitment. And making it illegal to operate independently sans the government participation."

[Translation: We need an agency dedicated just to regulate irecruitment. And making it illegal to operate independently sans the government participation.]

He said he would go after illegal recruiters the same way he did after "5-6 lenders," or usurious lenders.

READ: Duterte wants to talk with the Indian gov't on 5-6 lenders