President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte and his administration are exhausting all efforts to produce more local jobs for Filipinos, including those who are working overseas, Malacañang said on Saturday.

The commitment was made after President, through Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje, assured that he has “continuing care” for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Borje relayed Duterte’s message during a Christmas party with distressed OFWs and Filipino minors held at the Philippine embassy in Manama, Bahrain on Friday, the Palace said in a press statement.

“In his speech, Chief of Presidential Protocol and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje conveyed the President’s continuing care for OFWs and concern over the need to improve services for Filipinos overseas, particularly those in distress,” Malacañang said.

“Undersecretary Borje, who was appointed Special Envoy of the President to Tunisia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Kingdom of Bahrain, said the Duterte administration is doing everything to improve the country’s economy to create more local jobs to Filipinos,” it added.

Borje was tasked by the President to assess the condition of OFWs in North Africa and the Middle East.

Borje said for Duterte, seeking jobs in other countries “should not be a need but a choice for Filipinos,“ Malacañang said.

“He noted that President Duterte recognized the role of OFWs in nation-building and development, saying they are part of progress not just because of remittances they send home but for their determination to uplift the living conditions of their families in the Philippines,” it said.

“Undersecretary Borje said overseas Filipinos served an important part as the country moves towards greater development,” the Palace added.

There are an estimated 2.3 million OFWs worldwide, according to a 2018 survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Remittances sent home by OFWs went up by 4.2 percent to USD2.87 billion in August this year from USD2.76 billion in the same month last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas earlier reported.

In the case of OFWs confronted by several issues in Bahrain, the Philippine government, through its embassy in Manama, is working with Bahraini authorities to address their concerns, Malacañang said.

Borje noted that the Philippines and Bahrain have a solid partnership on migration issues, as he acknowledged the commitment of King Hamad Isa Al Khalifa to protect the OFWs' welfare in the host country.

Malacañang said distressed OFWs and Filipino minors received Christmas presents and cash assistance from the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Thirteen shelter wards were given presents from the President and the DFA. Also, 27 child beneficiaries of the Oplan Kabataan of the Philippine Embassy in Bahrain, received gifts and cash assistance from the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs,” it said.

The Chief Executive’s special video message extending his Yuletide greetings to the OFWs in Bahrain was also played, the Palace said. (PNA)