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Philippine cites Singapore for promoting Filipino workers' welfare.

The Philippine government cited yesterday this city-state's promotion of the welfare of more than 180,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) here as it vowed to work harder to ensure their protection.

Philippine Ambassador Joseph del Mar Yap said the Singaporean government recognizes the contribution of the OFWs here and that the big difference between Singapore and other countries is that when there are cases of abuse, OFWs can report them to Singapore police, who 'actually take action.'

Yap disclosed there have been several cases where the employers were arrested, tried and thrown in jail upon conviction for abuse of domestic workers, not necessarily Filipinos but also other nationalities.

He stressed the embassy here also makes sure that the OFWs are properly informed of their rights as workers.

'And that's what we also teach our OFWs. Every other month, we have a seminar here called the post-arrival orientation seminar where we tell them... their rights and their duties in Singapore,' Yap said.

One of the rights of OFWs is the right to complain.

'If they are being mistreated, they are not being fed properly, they are not being given their day off, they can complain and the police or the manpower department will come and investigate. And of course, the embassy itself is always ready to assist them and we always support them when they have these types of complaints,' Yap said.

According to Yap, Singapore is one of the bigggest sources of OFW remittances, amounting to about $1.75 billion every year.

Of the 180,000 Filipinos working and living here, about 60 percent are considered professionals or skilled workers while 40 percent are household service workers.

'The Singapore society looks at the Filipinos as contributors to their national development... At 180,000, we are roughly maybe four percent of their population,' Yap said, noting Filipinos are important to this city-state's economy being workers in banks, information technology and other companies.

'They're engineers, they're architects and (perform) a lot of functions that are very much needed in the area,' he said, adding skilled Filipinos work in hotels and restaurants.

'And even our domestic workers I think, most of them are recognized... at a much better level... than other nationalities... without trying to put down other nationalities.

But they are really recognized because even my Singaporean friends, many of them tell me that they have domestic workers that have been staying with them for so many years and they are so happy with them and they are there like members of their family already. So I think that's where the Filipinos stand in Singapore,' Yap said.

President Duterte is here for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

Yap said the President still enjoys a very high trust and support from OFWs, who have shown eagerness to see the chief executive during his scheduled meeting with them here.

Yap said bilateral relations between Singapore and the Philippines remain strong and will mark their 50th anniversary next year.

Yap said Singapore is the country's biggest trading partner in ASEAN, accounting for $10 billion in trade between the two countries, and the biggest source of investments.

'Most of these investments are in fact done through joint ventures. So there are many companies, several companies in the Philippines that have joint ventures with Singaporean companies,' Yap said.

Yap likewise said that more and more Philippine companies are investing in Singapore, particularly in real estate and banking.

Philippine products are now also being sold in the supermarkets of Singapore while Philippine fastfood chains, such as Jollibee, are opening stores.

In terms of defense cooperation, Singapore is one of the country's steadfast partners in terms of cyber security and counterterrorism, providing assistance to the Philippines during the recent Marawi City siege as well as training for about 50 Filipino soldiers here.

In tourism, Yap said efforts are being made to increase the number of Singaporean tourists to the Philippines.

Although there are about more than 500,000 Filipino tourists traveling to Singapore every year, only 200 Singaporeans visit the Philippines.

'But of course, that means we can still try to improve that balance and try to get more Singaporeans to visit the Philippines. And I think that with additional emphasis on more tourism fairs, more cooperation with the travel agents in Singapore and maybe more direct flights to the Philippines, we can easily bring up the number of Singaporean tourists,' Yap said.
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:Apr 27, 2018
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