Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1, Pasay City
February 13, 2018

“Welcome, I love you as a Filipino, mahal ko kayong lahat,” said President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to an estimated 150 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) after their repatriation from Kuwait as part of the administration’s program, ‘Sagip-Sundo ng Pangulo #pangOFWs,’ at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 in Pasay City.

In his speech, President Duterte expressed his dismay on hearing about the latest abuses and maltreatment of Filipino OFWs, such as the issue of a Filipino domestic worker named Joanna Daniela Demafelis whose body was found stored in a freezer, believed to be over a year, in her Lebanese employer’s house in Kuwait.

The President spoke of how the problems of OFWs in such areas have been ongoing for too long, and told the story of how he secured the release of three (3) Filipinas in Kuwait who were captured by the religious police for giving away rosaries during his tenure as Davao City’s First District Representative.

He also extended his gratitude to Philippine Airlines (PAL) Chairman and CEO Lucio Tan, Sr., and to Cebu Pacific President and CEO Lance Gokongwei for flying OFWs from Kuwait back to the Philippines for free.

“I’d like to just say to Mr. Lucio Tan and the Gokongwei Family, si Lance, in behalf of our countrymen, salamat po and I will remember you for all time,” said President Duterte.

He also reiterated that his administration’s war against illegal drugs is to help the young generations of Filipinos provide for their future and their family, “Kasi alam ko ‘yung mga anak ninyo pinapa-aral ninyo, nandoon kayo and you endure, tinitiis ninyo and kahirapan sa buhay… Ngayon pagtanda mo, walang natapos ang mga anak mo, nalulong sa droga…”

Moreover, President Duterte spoke about the plight of the agriculture sector, especially small farmers and businessmen in regional areas, due to the extortion activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – New People’s Army (NPA).

“Itong mga ‘to pati sa bukid, humihingi. Pinapatay ‘yung mga sundalo ko, pati pulis ko. Walang ginawa kung hindi mag-extortion,” said the President.

President Duterte also endorsed the free family planning solutions provided by the government to his audience to help them avoid poverty, “’Wag kayong manganak. ‘Wag kayong magpalabas masyado ng tao kasi ako, ako naaawa sa tao.”

The President was joined in the event by Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) Sarah Lou Arriola, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, and other officials from the DOLE, OUMWA, OWWA, NAIA, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Bureau of Immigration (BI), and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

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