No definite decision on assistance to Filipinos
A ranking official of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs noted that the country is open to working with the CNMI in terms of long-term recovery assistance for its nationals in the Northern Marianas.
Enrico Fos, executive director of the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs at the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, told Saipan Tribune yesterday that, while a definitive decision to send assistance from the Philippines has yet to be confirmed, the Asian country is open to negotiations with the CNMI for long-term construction and recovery assistance.
“In the Philippines, there are a lot of skilled workers in the construction industry. If there is an opening for these people to come here and help out—hired by constructions companies here—I believe the Philippines is a good source of that manpower,” Fos said. “This is one of the possible assistance of the Philippines to the CNMI.”
“…It may be complicated, but at the end of the day, there is a need; a matching skill for the need; and if there is a company willing to hire [from the Philippines] at a decent condition, it would be possible,” he said.
When asked if the Philippine government would be sending assistance to the CNMI, Fos noted that nothing is final.
“…There is no decision yet whether we can send assistance,” he said. “At the same time…we have discovered that there is assistance not just for U.S. citizens but for everyone,” adding that U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency benefits, the Disaster Nutritional Assistance Program, and the CNMI Department of Labor’s Disaster Unemployment Assistance are available to most Filipinos in the CNMI.
Fos spent two days on Saipan meeting with Filipino organizations. While he did not disclose which specific organizations he met, he noted that the purpose of his visit was to gather information on the situation of Filipinos affected by Super Typhoon Yutu. He was accompanied by DFA’s Hermogenes “Jun” Cayabyab, Philippine Consulate General in Guam vice consul Alex Vallespin, and CNMI honorary consul Glicerio “Eli” Arago during his meeting with press secretary Kevin Bautista and Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog yesterday at the Governor’s Office on Capital Hill.
“[The CNMI] is in the phase of reconstruction and rehabilitation—[the CNMI] is no longer in the initial relief phase,” he noted. “…If ever there is a need for more assistance, that is where we will concentrate,” he said.
Fos noted that, based on his talks with several Filipino organizations, the Saipan local government’s main are construction workers.
“We have plenty of that,” he said, while adding that he noticed the speed of recovery on the island. “The island is almost on the brink of recovery—normalcy is fast becoming a reality here and long-term rehabilitation is beginning to be implemented,” he said.