Philippine Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara would convey all the issues and concerns of his countrymen in the CNMI to the proper agencies when he returns to Manila. The young lawmaker from Aurora province in the island of Luzon was on Saipan for a four-day visit.
Angara was on island to attend the Philippine Independence Day weekend with yesterday being the 118th year commemoration of the country’s declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule (See story on Page 14).
The CW-1 issue that Filipino guest workers are currently experiencing and bringing back a Philippine Consulate office in the CNMI are some of the topics discussed during the open forum held yesterday after the proclamation signing reaffirming the CNMI and the Philippines’ long-term friendship.
The former three-term representative of Aurora province, who is the Senate Foreign Affairs and Tourism committees vice chair, said he would personally write to DFA Secretary Jose Rene Almendras.
“Immediately after my return to Manila, I would write to [Sec. Almendras] to convey all the issues and concerns brought up to me personally by our countrymen here in the CNMI. This includes the controversial setting up of an annual working visa quotas to contract workers in the CNMI.”
He added that he would still push through in informing President Benigno Simeon Aquino III about the issues his kababayans in the CNMI are facing even with his term about to end on June 30. He is hopeful that the incoming administration of President Rodrigo Duterte would also discuss the issues.
“I would likely prod the executive department to seek an audience with the U.S. Embassy in Manila to bring up this matter. The idea here is for our side to be heard,” said Angara, the first Filipino senator to visit Saipan.
He added that he remains optimistic a long lasting solution would come out. “The U.S. government is and will always be an ally of the Philippines. I am optimistic that the solution to all of this is not too far in sight.”
Angara said a lot of Filipinos had found work in the CNMI and became integral parts of the community with some getting married to locals. “We had a shared history and heritage. The Chamorros and Filipinos are brothers and sisters.”
Angara also paid acting governor Victor B. Hocog a courtesy call a few hours after arriving on Saipan. They discussed bilateral talks between the two nations, particularly some of the problems that Filipino contract workers are currently experiencing.
He added that he would convey the invitation of Hocog to other members of Philippine Congress to visit the CNMI to learn more about the Commonwealth and meet the Filipino community here, which comprises a third of the population.