OFWs' CONTRIBUTION. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. thanks overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for putting the Philippines in a good light, during his meeting with the Filipino community in Zurich, Switzerland on Friday (Jan. 20, 2023). Marcos also acknowledged the OFWs' sacrifices and contributions to the development of the Philippine economy. (Screenshot from Radio Television Malacañang)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday heaped praises on the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) for their crucial role in painting a good picture of the Philippines.

"Napakaganda ang kanilang tingin dahil sa mga Pinoy. Ito ay dahil sa inyo, dahil sa inyong mga magandang ginagawa (They see the Philippines in a good light because of Filipinos. This is because of the good work you are doing)," Marcos said before members of the Filipino community in Zurich, Switzerland.

"Pinapaganda ninyo ang imahe ng Pilipinas sa buong mundo... Ang sisipag, kaya talagang bilib silang lahat (You are burnishing the image of the Philippines to the whole world. You are very industrious, that’s why they are all impressed."

He also thanked the OFWs for their hard work and contributions to the development of the Philippine economy.

The President said he is "very appreciative" when it comes to OFWs because of their sacrifices, noting that they are helping not just their families but also the country because of their remittances, which is a huge contributing factor to the Philippine economy.

He assured OFWs that the government, through the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), would continue to provide assistance to them.

"Itong department (DMW) na ito ay walang gagawin kundi intindihin ang kalagayan ng ating mga OFW na alam kong nagsisikap at kung minsan ay nangangailangan ng tulong (This department will attend to the welfare of our OFWs whom I know are working hard and sometimes need assistance)," Marcos said.

Lastly, he said Filipinos working overseas deserve praise and recognition.

"Dapat malaman ninyo kung gaano kahalaga ang ginagampanan ninyong tulong dito sa ating bansa (You should know how important your role is in helping our country)," he said. "Kaya kailangan ko na rin sigurong dagdagan ang pasasalamat ko, hindi lang sa inyong ginagawa, ngunit sa inyong tuluyang pagpaganda ng tingin ng buong mundo sa Pilipino (That’s why I also need to amplify my gratitude, not just for your work but also for ultimately putting the image of Filipinos in a good light to the whole world)."

'Satisfied' with WEF participation

Meanwhile, Marcos said he is "satisfied" with his and his official delegation’s accomplishments during and on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Apart from attending WEF activities, he also held a series of business meetings on the sidelines of the international forum and met with potential investors.

"Tayo naman sa Pilipinas ay dahan-dahan nating binubuksan ang ating ekonomiya. Dahan-dahan tayo ay lumalahok muli sa tinatawag na global economy. Kaya't kailangan, magpakilala tayong muli (As for the Philippines, we are gradually reopening our economy. We are again gradually participating in the global economy. That's why we need to re-introduce our country)," he said, noting that he met with potential investors. "We are satisfied that we were able to do most, if not all of the things that we wanted to do while we were here."

Avoiding being 'trampled'

Marcos, in his recent interview with the Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of the WEF, said the Philippines is also avoiding being “trampled” by two competing superpowers, the United States (US) and China, adding that his administration is "walking a fine line between them."

"We are the grass in this situation. We don’t want to get trampled,” he said.

The Philippines, Marcos said, is in the "front line," given that 150,000 Filipino nationals live in Taiwan and that the southern port city of Kaohsiung is 40 minutes away from the northernmost island of Batanes.

The Philippines is also in a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, with Beijing claiming almost the entire busy waterway.

The Philippines is also performing a balancing act, considering its bilateral ties with the US and China.

China is one of the country’s largest trading partners, while the US and the Philippines have a long-standing defense treaty.

In a separate interview with the Financial Times, Marcos confirmed he expected intensified military relations with the US, citing the possible strong presence of American troops in the Philippines.

Marcos, however, ruled out the reopening of the former US military bases in Clark and Subic, saying it was against the country’s Constitution to allow foreign bases on its soil. (PNA)