President Benigno Aquino III never intended to insult the Filipinos working abroad when he praised the workers who opted to stay in the Philippines during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), a Malacañang official said on Thursday.
“I don’t think there was an attempt to discredit what we call mga bagong bayani. It was just to emphasize that we have people here [in the Philippines] who’re also making sacrifices,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said at a press briefing.
Lacierda acknowledged that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have made sacrifices for themselves. “We know the social cost of being separated from their own families,” he said.
On Wednesday, a Filipino migrant workers group criticized Aquino for his alleged offensive comment against OFWs in his SONA.
Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said they detest the implication in the speech that OFWs chose to serve foreigners instead of their own countrymen.
“We protest the underlying contempt of President Aquino towards migrants who had no choice but to work overseas, separated from our families and communities, because the past and the present administration failed miserably to provide jobs and livelihood and denied basic social services to the Filipino people,” she added.
In his SONA on July 25, Aquino urged Filipinos to express gratitude to nurses who serve in the country when they could work abroad for a higher salary.
The President also said Filipino students must thank their teachers who chose to teach in the country instead of abroad. — JE, GMA News