Pro-OFW solon, Migrante leader clash in HK dialogue
Tension marred a meeting in Hong Kong last week regarding the overseas employment certificate (OEC) after two participants — a pro-OFW lawmaker and a migrants' rights group — engaged in a heated argument.
A report on Hong Kong's Sun said Migrante Hong Kong leader Eman Villanueva and ACTS-OFW party-list Rep. John Bertiz "nearly came to blows" following their loud argument over their respective stands on the OEC, which many OFWs want scrapped.
A video of the argument was posted on the Facebook page of HK Pinoy TV.
Interviewed by GMA News Online at the House of Representatives, Bertiz confirmed the incident, saying the argument happened because both of them were "passionate" with their respective stands.
"Yung pagiging passionate namin pareho, hindi rin natin maaalis na magkaroon ng konting sigawan," he said.
Bertiz said he was in Hong Kong to help launch a new mobile app for OFWs when he was asked to join the dialogue due to his position as member of the House Committee on Labor and Employment.
According to the Sun report, the incident happened during a dialogue between pro-OFW groups and Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod last January 29 that was also attended by Bertiz.
During the meeting, Villanueva reportedly accused Bertiz, who favored the OEC, of trying to dominate the dialogue. He also reportedly said Bertiz was not a real OFW but the president and CEO of one of the biggest recruitment agencies in the Philippines.
Bertiz, in the interview with GMA News Online, did not deny that he is a businessman.
"Ako bilang OFW, nag-reintegrate ako. Masama ba na ang isang OFW maka-isip ng negosyo?" he said. "At yung negosyo na tinayo ko ay nakatulong ng mahigit kumulang na 100,000 na Pilipino pati sa pamilya na nabigyan ng trabaho sa abroad."
Bertiz said he has apologized for what happened, but added Villanueva should have released the full video of the meeting to give viewers the full and proper context.
"Sana pinalabas na lang nila yung buong video, hindi lang 'yung gusto nilang ipakita sa tao o 'yung gusto nilang ipakita na ako 'yung masama," he said. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino and Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News