PHILIPPINE Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano was in Sydney with a Philippine delegation for the 2018 ASEAN Australia Special Summit recently .
By MITCHELL BADELLES
Eleven ASEAN leaders met to discuss the region ’ s security , future prosperity through trade agreements , and socialcultural connections .
Secretary Cayetano spent a couple of hours with about 300 Filipino-Australians , a cross-section of various community groups , after the second day of the Summit on Sunday , March 18 , at the University of Technology Sydney .
He answered two questions from the audience .
The first question was about how Filipinos living overseas could help the Philippine economy ; the second question was about how the current Philippine government was protecting Filipino expatriates .
He said Filipinos should be proud of their country and to talk to foreigners about how nice the Philippines was for holidays .
He said there were about 10 million Filipinos living overseas .
If each one could convince one out of
PHILIPINE Secretary of Foreign Affairs , Alan Cayetano , addressing questions from the Filipino community at University of Technology Sydney .
10 foreigners to visit the Philippines , that would be 10 million tourists that would put money into the local economy , Sec Cayetano said .
He said expatriates could “ adopt ” their local communities in the Philippines and donate their old phones , laptops and tablets to students to assist with their school work .
Earlier that afternoon , the Filipino community group Migrante ’ s Movement Against Tyranny held a protest rally at Sydney Town Hall , claiming that the Philippine Government had continued its inaction , and has lack of political will , to
protect overseas foreign workers since the death by execution of Flor Contemplacion in 1995 .
Sec Cayetano ’ s response was that the premise that the government was not doing enough was correct , but that President Rodrigo Duterte was taking steps to do more ordering Cayetano and the DBM to allocate P1 Billion to assist OFWs .
He said legal assistance can now be provided by local lawyers on retainers to assist at first point of trouble , from being arrested to being represented at a police station , and all the way through legal court proceedings .
Another way was to fly the OFWs back to the Philiippines free of charge if they were in legal trouble .
As to the premise that nothing had changed , Sec Cayetano said he disagreed , saying that the Philippine Government flew 10,000 Filipinos home from Kuwait recently , with another 30,000 estimated OFWs expected to take the offer . “ We need long-term solutions ”, he said . “ The more educated a person is , the better jobs he gets abroad or at home . “ Secondly , the more the economy grows , the more you have choices .
“ Sana , intindihin ng critics ( hopefully , critics will understand ) we ’ re not only addressing the present plight of our OFWs .”
Sec Cayetano cited a government policy of free tuition in all state universities . •
Australia ' s total trade with ASEAN in 2016
$ 93.2 billion
ASEAN ' s predicted population in 2022
ASEAN combined GDP in 2016
$ 2.5 trillion