DESPITE their president’s declaration of trust for Donald Trump, Philippine government leaders are urging undocumented Filipinos living in the United States to return home before the U.S. president-elect decides to fulfill his pledge to deport the millions of illegal immigrants in the country.
According to Rappler, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella made the call at a news briefing Wednesday, echoing the position taken by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
“The labor chief urged undocumented OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) in the United States to return to the country amid the threat of massive deportation of illegal immigrants once US president-elect Donald Trump assumes office in January,” Abella was quoted as saying.
As of December 2013, there were some 3.5 million Filipinos living in the U.S., 7.6 percent or 271,000 of whom were classified as irregular or undocumented, according to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Since then, the number has likely increased, with some local reports saying there may be up to 4 million abroad, which is about a third of all Filipinos abroad.
Abella, according to Rappler, reportedly said that President Rodrigo Duterte’s government would be ready and willing to help returning Filipinos.
“Should the undocumented OFWs decide to come home, Bello noted that the government is ready to provide them assistance,” he said.
He went on to say that Duterte’s ultimate intention is to bring back all OFWs.
“We already established a mechanism for business and employment opportunities,” he added.
On Tuesday, Duterte, who has on numerous occasions been dubbed the “Trump of Asia” or the “Trump of the East”, expressed his belief that he would likely get along well with the U.S. president-elect.
He reportedly pointed out that this was because Trump, for all his controversial remarks and bluster, “has not meddled in human rights issues”.
According to Reuters, Duterte, who has been less friendly to Trump’s predecessor, outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama, also said he trusts that Trump would deal fairly with the undocumented immigrants that he plans to boot from America.
“I trust in his judgment that he would be fair in the matter of the treatment of illegal immigrants. I cannot talk for the illegals because, whether President Trump or anybody else for that matter, an illegal is always an illegal,” he was quoted as saying.
The intrepid Filipino leader was among the first leaders in Asia to offer his congratulations to Trump after the latter stunned the world to win the U.S. presidency last week.
Duterte continued to heap kind words on Trump this week, saying: “It was a well-deserved victory. You (Trump) are the chosen leader of the most powerful country.”