The sons and daughter of Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte visited Macau on Saturday to meet with hundreds of migrant workers as part of the “Tapang at Malasakit” campaign, which translates to “courage and care.”
This is the first time that family members of a Philippine president have visited the region.
Groups of Filipino migrants turned up to show their support for the controversial president.
The majority of Filipino migrants in both SARs voted for Duterte during the May 2016 elections, hoping to see radical change happen in their home country.
Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio thanked the Filipino workers for their support of her father’s campaign, pledging that the government would ramp up its outreach to migrant workers abroad.
She was joined by her brothers Paolo Duterte and Sebastian Duterte, along with other city mayors and officials.
“We thank them for helping and supporting the campaign and election of our president. We also thank the continuous support and commitment in his administration,” Duterte-Carpio told the press on the sidelines of the event.
She formed the “Tapang at Malasakit” campaign, which calls on Duterte supporters to band together and champion the Duterte administration.
“We volunteered to help our country grow and progress; and to [help] develop our respective communities. [Let’s not] forget to help our communities and districts because if the community gets better, that is one less of a problem the president will think of,” Duterte-Carpio said.
She reiterated that the president has recently launched the Overseas Filipino Bank, three months after signing the executive order to establish the scheme.
The Overseas Filipino Bank provides financial and remittance services that are tailored to the needs of the migrant workers and their families.
Duterte-Carpio also recalled her father’s support for migrant workers and the Duterte administration’s establishment of a new one-stop center for workers to access frontline government services.
“I salute the Overseas Filipino Workers for their courage and care because I cannot do what you are doing for your families. We just want you to know that we admire you for your bravery,” Duterte-Carpio told the audience.
Filipino migrant workers were largely joyful and supportive during the event, but exhorted the administration to listen to the pleas of their compatriots who are at risk of domestic abuse, particularly in countries like Kuwait.
The body of a Filipino maid was found stuffed in a freezer in a flat in Kuwait, which sparked an outrage in the Philippines.
The incident prompted President Duterte to ban the deployment of new Filipino workers to Kuwait, where many cases of abuse had been recorded.
Regarding the Philippines’ democracy, influential political blogger RJ Nieto – better known by his pen name “ThinkingPinoy” – noted that democracy is “alive and well” in the country despite the negative publicity.
“This president – despite all his flaws – we know he’s not a sweet talker, but he delivers results. And the results are felt by all classes of society. Even his detractors cannot deny the fact that there [have] been so many reforms happening in the Philippines in the past two years,” Nieto told the press.
Questioned by the Times whether press freedom is under fire, Nieto replied, “There’s this bunch of people complaining about the press freedom being threatened, but the fact of the matter is they’re very noisy.”
“Press freedom does not exist when you’re being silenced. But the fact that they’re being so noisy is a testament that press freedom is alive and well in the Philippines,” he added.
“Tapang at Malasakit” was also held in Hong Kong yesterday.
Duterte-Carpio hopes to extend the alliance to more migrant workers overseas.
“We spend our own money for things like these but when there are opportunities, we’ll take the chance to [visit and] thank the overseas Filipino workers,” she added.