SPEAKER Alan Peter Cayetano has proposed the need for the government to craft a viable plan that will harness the skills and knowledge of returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) to help transform the economy amid the pandemic.
“Armed with the technology, training, and discipline, they have so much knowledge they have learned from other countries,” Cayetano said.
“They have the ability to transform our economy practically overnight if we put the right plan in place,” he added.
To date, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has already repatriated a total of 102,519 Filipinos since February 2020. Of this number, 42.8% (43,893) are sea-based and 57.2% (58,626) are land-based.
On March 11, 2020, the House passed on final reading House Bill (HB) 5832 which seeks to create the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment dedicated to handling all programs and policies concerning Filipinos overseas.
The Speaker said he strongly believes the returning OFWs will form the “first wave” in the push for progress in the countryside if they are properly supported and given the right opportunities.
He also said the country must now look at the provinces as “the new centers of development.”
“COVID-19 has shown us the weak underbelly of our big cities. How easily they can be brought to their knees -- and with it the whole nation -- by disease and infection. We should never allow ourselves to be caught off guard again,” he said.
Cayetano said the pandemic now serves as a “clarion call” for the country’s urban planners, engineers, and architects.
“The government needs your ideas. Help us build a better Philippines by decongesting our cities and spreading the wealth to every island,” he said.
Cayetano said everything from this point on “should no longer be about recapturing the past.”
“We have to acknowledge in humility our mistakes, surviving the present, and building a greater future – a great future depends on it. Humble ourselves, pray, discern, work hard, but definitely, we need a plan – we need a roadmap,” he said.
Cayetano said there is a “long, hard road” ahead of the country, “but there is nothing in the Filipino’s character which tells me that we will be unequal to the task.”