MANILA—To make Philippine embassies truly a sanctuary for Filipinos abroad, independent vice presidential bet and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said the “Gobyernong may Puso” will get rid of embassy officials who act like “modern-day Makapili” instead of helping overstaying and undocumented Filipinos legalize their status in a foreign land.
If elected into office in the May 9 polls , Escudero said he and his presidential running mate, leading presidential candidate and Senator Grace Poe, will tackle the case of the so-called “tago nang tago” or TNTs, who despite their best intentions to earn for their families, have been on the run from immigration authorities abroad.
”Imbes na maging parang Makapili ang gobyerno dahil ‘yung mga opisyal ng embahada sa ibang bansa ang nagtuturo kung sino ‘yung iligal, dapat tulungan ng embassy natin na maging ligal ang mga Pilipinong ito,” Escudero told a radio interview in Cagayan de Oro City recently.
Makapili, which stands for Makabayang Katipunan ng mga Pilipino, refers to Filipinos who fought against their anti-Japanese countrymen during Japan’s occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945.
Escudero lamented that TNTs are hesitant to seek help from the Philippine embassy regarding their case because they believe embassy officials themselves tip off immigration authorities of the host country on illegally staying Filipinos in exchange for a reward.
He said the Philippine government, through its embassies, should serve the interests and welfare of its nationals abroad, especially the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are hailed as “modern-day heroes” for keeping the economy resilient for many years.
Should the “Gobyernong may Puso” win, Escudero said he and Poe will work toward legitimizing overstaying and undocumented Filipinos whose stay in a foreign land is not covered by certain legal protections.
Escudero said this will be one of the priorities of the new department that they plan to put up to attend to needs of OFWs which number around 2.3 million, although the total migrant population is estimated at 10 million, or 10 percent of the entire Philippine population.
“Tututukan namin ang kapakanan ng mga TNT sa ibang bansa. Trabaho ng departamentong ito na gawing ligal kung sinumang Pilipino na iligal na nagtratrabaho o naninirahan sa ibang bansa,” the veteran lawmaker pointed out.
Escudero earlier revealed that the “Gobyernong may Puso” plans to set up a Php100-billion fund for the millions of Filipino migrant workers to finance wide-ranging services for them.