Migrant groups in Ottawa are not particularly excited for Philippine President Benigno Aquino III’s state visit in Canada. They may even welcome him with protests rather than with open arms.
“I think that this is a cheap campaign ploy for Mr. Harper to try to gain votes from the Filipino community,” Bayan Canada member Joey Calugay said.
“We find that the Aquino government, because of their policies, is continuing to push and encourage Filipinos to leave their own country and to seek better pastures abroad because there’s such a total lack of opportunities,” Centre for Philippine Concerns spokesperson Marie Boti said.
While other groups are unhappy, the Filipino community in general is excited for President Aquino’s visit in the country. They are also hoping for better Philippine-Canadian relations after the visit.
“We look forward to the visit of our president. We know that it will be successful,” Philippine Ambassador to Canada Petronila Garcia said.
“What I foresee right now is that we will have a stronger partnership with the Philippines. I know that the last time we were there with Prime Minister Harper, we talked about these bilateral relations and I’m working on our trade agreement,” Fil-Canadian Senator Tobias Enverga said. “We’re hoping that there will be more interaction between the two countries.”
President Aquino’s visit is expected to ‘provide an opportunity for both leaders to reaffirm close relationship between Canada and the Philippines based on strong people-to-people ties.’
Among the topics and issues that will be discussed in President Aquino’s state visit, Filipinos in Canada expect him to also tackle about the plight of temporary workers sent back home, report on donation usage in past typhoons, and better security for OFWs returning to the country.
“Dahil nagkakaproblema tayo ngayon sa mga temporary foreign workers ng Canada, eh dapat makipagusap siya (President Aquino) sa government of Canada how to deal with this problem kasi majority of the foreign workers are Filipinos,” Ottawa Filipino community member Edgar Piol said.
(Because we are encountering problems among temporary foreign workers in Canada, he must talk to the government of Canada on how to deal with this problem because majority of the foreign workers are Filipinos.)
“It would be nice if President Noynoy can assure us that when we go to Manila as balikbayans, that we’ll be safe,” Dr. Alfredo Formoso said.
“What has happened to all the monies that were donated?… We need to re-establish some connection and some trust on what’s really going on there so we can continue to offer help if needed,” Dr. Ruby Formoso said.