At a gathering with the Filipino community, Canadian ministers confirmed that Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will be visiting Canada on May 8 to strengthen Philippine-Canadian ties.
“We hope that the visit of President Aquino will improve the Canada-Philippines trade relations. The Philippines is Canada’s fifth largest trading partners in Southeast Asia… We’ve been admitting on average about 25,000- some years 30,000 — new Filipino permanent residents to Canada every year since the Harper government took office in 2006,” said Federal Minister of National Defense Jason Kenney.
The Filipino community in Canada has mixed reactions on Aquino’s visit.
“Excited tayo. Marami akong nakausap na excited silang makita ang ating Presidente dito. Isa din sa pride natin yan bilang isang Pilipino na ang ating Presidente makakadalaw din dito sa atin. Nakikita natin yung ibang countries yung Presidente nila napunta dito, and they are so excited. Ganyan din ang feeling ko. Ganun din ang feeling ng marami sa atin. Somehow we want to see him, and it will be an opportunity again to promote Filipinos here,” said Friends of Jesus Christ Scarborough and Filipino community leader Pastor Teck Uy.
(We are excited. I have talked [to a lot of Filipinos] who are excited to see our President here. It is one of our prides as Filipinos that our President will be visiting us here. We see other countries with their Presidents visiting them, and they are so excited. I have the same feeling. That is also the feelings of others. Somehow, we want to see him, and it will be an opportunity again to promote Filipinos here.)
While other Filipinos are excited to see President Aquino, others would like to take it as an opportunity to question him regarding concerns about the Philippines.
“There [have] been 204 extra judicial killings under the Aquino administration, and this is a president who has had three impeachment cases filed against him. So, fortunately, the Filipino-Canadian community are very well aware of these facts, and if he’s going to come here and expect that he’s going to have full support of the Filipino-Canadian community, I think he’s in for a surprise,” said Ontario regional representative of Migrante Canada Jesson Reyes.
With the issues the Philippine government is facing, some Filipinos only wanted assurances that their countrymen get the benefits they deserve.
“Actually, ang ano natin dito ay assurances lang na ang mga kamag-anak natin duon ay magkaroon naman sila ng benefit. Marami sa kanila, umaasa sila sa atin dito, maganda siguro na magkaroon din ang gobyerno ng isang program na maasikaso sila, especially maraming nagtratrabaho dito nagpapadala tayo duon, in return, what also can we expect from the government to help the relatives that we have?,” said Uy.
(Actually, what we [want] here are just assurances that our relatives [in the Philippines] get benefits. A lot of them are dependent on us here. [I think] it will be good if the government will have a program that caters to their needs, especially when a lot of Filipinos working here are sending money there. In return, what also can we expect from the government to help the relatives that we have?)