5 “Otso Diretso” Candidates Woo Filipino Voters in Hong Kong

Five opposition senatorial candidates under “Otso Diretso” coalition flew to Hong Kong over the weekend to woo Filipino voters for support in their candidacy in the 2019 midterm elections.

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romeo Macalintal, and former congressman Erin Tañada managed to interact with Filipino workers who spent their Sunday day off.

There are about 87,000 Filipinos based in Hong Kong who are eligible to vote in the 2019 elections through overseas absentee voting. The “Otso Diretso” candidates met with the Filipino community in Hong Kong at an open rally in Chater Garden in the region’s Central District.

Issues about employment, security and workers rights of Filipino migrant workers were among those discussed by the candidates and the crowd.

Gutoc, for one, said that addressing OFW issues should not be tainted with political color or affiliation.

“Wala dapat DDS o dilawan lalo na sa issue ng ating mga overseas Filipino workers. Lahat dapat tayo, nasa administrasyon man o oposisyon, may plano para sa mga kababayan nating nagtitiis sa dayuhang bansa,” Gutoc said.

“Malayo na sila sa kanilang pamilya at mahal sa buhay, dapat ang serbisyo at atensyon ng gobyerno sa kanila hindi malayo,” she added.

Gutoc said that while there are a number of Philippine laws geared towards protecting OFWs, the government should ensure that they are properly implemented.

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“Congress should fully exercise its oversight function and ensure the timely and quality implementation of the laws that protect our OFWs, as well as the delivery of assistance to them,” Gutoc said.

For his part, Macalintal said Filipinos who seek jobs abroad should not be charged a single centavo in doing so.

“Kung ako ay papalaring maging senador, magpapanukala tayo ng mga ikabubuti ng mga OFWs. Dapat kahit isang pera ay walang kolektahin mula sa ating mga kababayan. No transport fees, no medical fees,” he said.

Hilbay, meanwhile, said he would push for a legislation that would improve the deployment system and caring for OFWs.

“The system has already been in place for several decades. We will make it more efficient, more humane, and more responsive to the needs of OFWs,” he said.

Tañada, on the other hand, defended OFWs against the statement of special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo that Filipino workers are “lazy and slowpoke.”

Tañada said that Filipino workers are hardworking, making them the preferred choice of foreign employers in Hong Kong and other places abroad.

“Masipag ang Pinoy at Pinay. Hindi tamad. Napatunayan na ng maraming dekada na tayo ang hinahanap ng mga employers sa abroad. Huwag namang kapwa Pilipino at opisyal pa ng pamahalaan ang maglalaglag sa ating mga OFWs,” Tañada said.

“Ginoong Tulfo, magtrabaho ka po para sa mga Pilipino, bigyan mo ng tamang serbisyo ang ating mga OFWs. Kasama dito ang trabaho at kabuhayan kung gusto na nilang bumalik sa ating bayan kasama ng kanilang mga pamilya,” he added.

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