OFWs laud Duterte's first SONA for being 'simple, straight to the point'
President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA) has received positive response from many OFWs, with migrant rights advocate Susan Ople even describing the overall reaction as "overwhelming."
"The President's heart is definitely in the right place," Ople said in a statement Tuesday, as she expressed optimism that Duterte will be able to deliver his promises to OFWs that he stated in his SONA.
Among Duterte's pro-OFW promises were the creation of a separate government agency that would cater exclusively to the OFWs' needs, the extension of the validity of the passport from five years to 10, and a crackdown on illegal recruiters.
Orders, not promises
Vergel Oliver Braza Coronel, 36 and an accountant in Qatar, lauded Duterte for sending a direct and heartfelt message to the public, and for giving "orders and not promises" during his SONA.
"Direktang mensahe na maaabot ng tao. May damdamin at hindi basta binasa lamang. Hindi lamang pangako kundi kautusan agad para sundin ng kagawaran," he told GMA News Online via email.
The observation was shared by Ma. Luisa Capila, a nursery teacher in Qatar. She described Duterte's SONA as "simple and straight to the point yet still informative enough for the people to understand his plans."
For Edgar Cabalu, a staff nurse in the United Arab Emirates, what struck him in Duterte's SONA are his "plans on the peace process, computerization, government service improvement, ‘one-stop’ document application, improved transportation, drug war, magna carta for women, corruption hotline, and lowering of taxes."
But Cabalu was not all praise. “I just wish for a stop to extrajudicial killings," he said, referring to the spate of killings of suspected drug users that human rights advocates are blaming on Duterte's tough stance against illegal drugs.
No blame game
The OFWs also said it was a breath of fresh air that Duterte did not blame past administrations for the country's current troubles.
"It is a good decision for [President] Duterte to not give any remark about the previous administrations. This strategy allowed the current president to have more time in discussing his plans for the country and the welfare of its citizens,” said Capila.
Even Duterte's appeal to the attendees and VIPs to wear business attire instead of the traditional long gowns and expensive Barong Tagalog was welcomed by the OFWs interviewed by GMA News Online.
"Over the past years, the State of the Nation Address focused more on the attires of the politicians and the real essence of the event was ignored," said Coronel.
"Sang-ayon ako sa pagsusuot lang ng business attires. Hindi agaw-eksena ang mga kasuotan or anupaman meron sa mga dadalo kase kaya sila anduon eh para sa mensahe ng pangulo at mga gagawin sa darating na taon," he added.
Coronel also noted that for the first time, the rally held by militants outside the Batasan Pambansa Complex was peaceful.
"Unang pagkakataon eto na wala sinunog [na effigy] at wala magulong protesta sa labas ng Batasan. Bagkus, inayudahan pa ng pulis ang raliyista at binigyan pa ice candy. Nagpapakita lamang [ito] na tanggap ng tao ang mga plano at pagkatao ng pangulo. Sigurado din ako na panatag lamang ang pangulo sa kanyang seguridad," he said. —KBK, GMA News