'Honoured to welcome him': Filipinos in Singapore look forward to Duterte's visit

'Honoured to welcome him': Filipinos in Singapore look forward to Duterte's visit

Only a small fraction of the 200,000 or so Filipinos living or working in Singapore will get the chance to meet Mr Duterte when he visits - registration for a meet-and-greet session had to be closed after it was oversubscribed.

Filipinos in Singapore for Duterte

SINGAPORE: The Filipino community is looking forward to welcoming President Rodrigo Duterte when he arrives in Singapore on Thursday as part of his introductory visits to ASEAN countries.

Many Filipinos Channel NewsAsia spoke to on Sunday (Dec 11) said they were excited that their head of state will be here.

"I'm very happy that he is coming to Singapore. We will be honoured to welcome him here," said engineer Adrian Camandang, who has worked in Singapore for seven years.

Design manager Kenneth Morales, who has worked here for a similar length of time, said: "I've always considered President Duterte as the best president that we've ever had. Of course, we're very excited."

Mr Duterte's visit to Singapore will be his first since he took office in June after his landslide election victory. While his crackdown on drugs has earned him criticism abroad, he remains popular among Filipinos, with one opinion poll on his first 90 days in office rating him "very good".

"We're proud of our president. We can feel the changes in the Philippines and I'm proud to say that," said 33-year-old domestic helper Mitchiel Serve.

There are about 200,000 Filipinos living or working in Singapore as of December 2013, according to statistics by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, but only a small fraction of them will get the chance to meet Mr Duterte when he arrives here.

Registration for a session for the Filipino community to meet Mr Duterte had to be closed after the number of people who had signed up for the event surpassed the venue's maximum capacity of 6,000 people.

The event, organised by the Philippine Embassy, will be held at the Expo on Friday.

Some were disappointed that they would not get the chance to meet Mr Duterte as they will be working on that day.

"I want to see him because he is my president. But (Friday) is not my day off, so how will I get to see him? I posted on Facebook too, that I'm sad, because he's coming here on a weekday, not Sunday. Maybe next time, I pray," said Rosalie, who works as a domestic helper.

FB: Domestic helper on (not) meeting Duterte

Mr Morales too, expressed his disappointment.

"I feel disappointed that I won't get to see him, because he got elected when we were here in Singapore, and we've always wanted to meet him."

Mr Duterte will meet Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his two-day visit. The leaders are expected to discuss bilateral trade and investments, as well as strengthening defence and security cooperation. Mr Duterte will also be hosted to a state banquet by President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

Source: CNA/dt