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Dubai: Filipinos to raise economic, environmental issues with President Marcos during visit – News

Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. – Reuters file

Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2023, 6:00 am

Philippine President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. will arrive in Dubai on November 29 to attend COP28 and also to visit the huge Filipino community. It will be the first time in 14 years that a Filipino president will come to the country and meet with his kababayans (his countrymen).

Marcos is expected to actively participate in the UN Climate Summit, but there are other concerns his kababayans would also like to hear from him, including “an effective response to the economic problems besetting Filipinos at home, at the same time which underlines the urgency of finding effective solutions towards a greener economy.” -Resilient Filipinos.”

They would like to hear solutions to rising commodity prices as much as they would like to know the Philippine government’s stance on mining, decarbonization and the transition to clean energy.

Khaleej Times spoke to Filipino community leaders, business owners and long-time residents to capture the collective spirit of more than 600,000 Filipino expatriates and learn about their agenda and expectations during a meet-and-greet with the Filipino community on Wednesday (Nov. 29) at the World Dubai Trade Center.

More than a diplomatic trip

Rex Bacarra, Ph.D., University Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, said: “As a Filipino expatriate living in the United Arab Emirates for 16 years, I see President Marcos’ official visit as more than just a diplomatic trip. It is set against the backdrop of the Philippines navigating through turbulent waters of rapidly rising prices of everyday products. “I see with anticipation and scrutiny that his commitment to the Filipino community would mean addressing pressing economic issues while also underscoring the urgency of effective solutions for a more resilient country.”

Rex Bacarra, Ph.D., university professor of Philosophy and Ethics.  — Photo supplied

Rex Bacarra, Ph.D., university professor of Philosophy and Ethics. — Photo supplied

“As someone who regularly sends money to the Philippines, President Marcos’ visit to the UAE presents a unique opportunity for a critical dialogue to know and understand whether there are clear and practical solutions to address the concerns of Filipinos in the Philippines and in the foreign”. He noted and added: “Do we have long-term policies to ensure sustainable growth and price stability?”

Bacarra continued: “Like the President. Marcos will participate in COP28, I would also like to know his administration’s stance on mining and environmental protection, as well as the protection of our economic interests and border security in the West Philippine Sea.”

Better consular services

Simplifying immigration procedures for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), broader protection abroad and better consular services are also among the pressing issues that Filipinos would like to address.

Community leader Josie Conlu.  — Photo supplied

Community leader Josie Conlu. — Photo supplied

Community leader Josie Conlu would like to hear from Marcos “ways to streamline and simplify immigration procedures, while ensuring the protection of the rights and well-being of Filipino workers. She should address issues such as visa processing, employment contracts and the prevention of human trafficking.”

Joyce Villalino-Alexander, a long-time resident of Dubai, added: “To ease the burden on OFWs, there should be constant consular services on weekends at Philippine missions and at the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) so that We don’t have to be absent from work. Monday to Friday. Contract verification fee charges should be abolished or at least reduced.”

Joyce Villalino-Alexander, long-time Dubai resident.  — Photo supplied

Joyce Villalino-Alexander, long-time Dubai resident. — Photo supplied

Rights and well-being

Migrante Middle East, an organization that promotes migrant rights and welfare, would like to hear about sustainable job creation in the Philippines. They noted that “the lack of employment opportunities has resulted in a constant exodus of overseas Filipino workers.”

They also called for more social welfare officers in MWO to address the needs of distressed OFWs and an effective response to unfair labor practices and human trafficking.

Boost to bilateral relations

Meanwhile, nurse and businesswoman Junah Balungcas would like to see the president. Marcos “will foster stronger economic ties with the UAE for the benefit of more Filipino entrepreneurs and businesses in the country.”

Nurse and businesswoman Junah Balungcas.  — Photo supplied

Nurse and businesswoman Junah Balungcas. — Photo supplied

“As a business owner and healthcare professional, I appreciate the opportunities and support the UAE offers. I also fully support the President. Marcos and I appreciate the positive steps he is taking for the betterment of our country,” added Balungcas, founder and CEO of Baofriend Restaurant FZCO.

Rolly Brucales, general manager of Off The Hook restaurant.  — Photo supplied

Rolly Brucales, general manager of Off The Hook restaurant. — Photo supplied

Filipino businessmen are also calling for the immediate approval of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which began in February 2022. Filipino restaurateur Rolly Brucales, CEO of Off The Hook restaurant, said: “We need to strengthen the business relationship with the Emirates United Arabs. . “We would also like to see stricter enforcement of brands and franchises.”

Climate action

For her part, Bobbie Carella, president emerita of the Philippine Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates, would like to hear Marcos “advocate for climate action by adopting renewable energy sources, managing forests and natural resources, and strengthening and enforcing environmental policies, among other things. “

Bobbie Carella, president emeritus of the Philippine-Dubai and Northern Emirates Business Council.  — Photo supplied

Bobbie Carella, president emeritus of the Philippine-Dubai and Northern Emirates Business Council. — Photo supplied

“This is not just about today; it is about ensuring a vibrant, fresher, greener and sustainable world for future generations. After all, there is no planet Earth B,” she added.



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