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03/02/2011: Vice President Binay meets, dialogues with Filipino community in metro DC

03 February 2011, Washington, DC – On the third day of his visit to the United States, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay met with leaders of the various Filipino organizations in the metropolitan Washington DC area at a pulong bayan (town hall meeting) held on 02 February 2011 at the Embassy of the Philippines.

In his welcome remarks, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa conveyed to the guests that the Vice President was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino, III as Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and as Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns. The Ambassador added that the Vice President, “…understands people’s needs and holds an impressive track record in planning and executing programs that respond to these needs.”

With the Vice President in town, Ambassador Gaa took the opportunity for the Vice President to witness the presentation of a Congressional Resolution to Mrs. Nina Solarz, the wife of the late Congressman Stephen J. Solarz. Resolution No. 54, Resolution honoring former New York City Congressman Stephen J. Solarz and expressing the profound condolences of the House of the Representatives on his passing, was adopted by the Philippine House of Representatives on 01 December 2010.

As a member of the US Congress in the early 1980’s, Congressman Solarz used his position to draw attention to martial law in the Philippines and to help reverse then US government’s policy towards the administration of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

A martial law activist, Vice President Binay recalled the efforts of Congressman Solarz in calling for the restoration of democracy in the Philippines.

The Vice President then discussed the government’s efforts in addressing issues faced by Filipinos who work abroad including illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons. The Vice President said that most Filipino workers abroad who are in poor conditions or are facing legal challenges are victims of illegal recruitment. He added that the government should be able to communicate the legitimate process of job placement to the public more effectively.

Vice President Binay also encouraged the Filipino workers among the audience to avail of their benefits as PAG-IBIG (Home Development Mutual Fund) members. Before he closed, the Vice President invited the guests to invest in the country. He added that in 2010, the Philippine economy grew by 7.3%, the highest in years. With the high trust rating in the government, the Vice President believes that investor confidence in the country will further improve.

During the open forum, the Vice President got down from the stage and engaged the guests. He addressed questions relating to the alleged misuse of funds of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, trafficking case involving 46 Filipinos in Mississippi, government efforts to prevent illegal recruitment and the government endorsement of the reproductive health bill in Congress, among others.

Earlier this week, Vice President Binay served as the keynote speaker on disaster and risk management and gave a talk on urban development at the World Bank Sustainable Development Network Annual Meeting. He also attended the 2011 National Prayer Breakfast Meeting organized by the US Congress and held meetings with US government officials on housing, legislators and policy think tanks.-- END