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Duterte hosts dinner for employment agency owners

13 April 2018

Those behind Duterte's party include Thomas Chan (in barong with saklay) and beside him is Francis So, who owns an employment agency in Davao City

By Daisy CL Mandap

Amid the uncertainty over Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre’s abrupt recall, ostensibly because of  favoritism in accrediting employment agencies, Hong Kong’s top recruiters of overseas Filipino workers got to dine with President Rodrigo Duterte and his common-law partner Honeylet Avancena on Apr. 11.

The Chinese-style banquet with 10 items on the menu and which Malacanang dubbed in a press statement as the Dutertes’ “dinner with friends in Hong Kong”, was held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Tsimshatsui where the presidential party was also billeted.

Also present were Special Presidential Assistant Bong Go, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, and Davao City Mayor and Presidential Daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio.

The friendly dinner appeared to affirm what Secretary Bello had purportedly said in a letter to the South China Morning Post, that Duterte had ordered the investigation of Dela Torre, apparently after some recruiters had complained.

Among the guests was Thomas Chan, chairman of the Hong Kong Union of Employment Agencies, who posted pictures of the dinner on his Facebook page along with the caption: “It is really our great honor tonight to attend the private dinner hosted by President Duterte who came to Hong Kong for a short visit, with the coordination of president’s palace of the Philippines. During the dinner, we had a nice chat with President, his wife, his daughter, chief staff of palace, foreign minister and labour minister. Unimaginable and unforgetable indeed”.

Pictured prominently at the dinner was Francis So, a Hong Kong resident married to a Filipina who operates a recruitment agency in Davao City, Duterte’s home base. So’s Facebook cover shots show him with Duterte and Bello at some public functions.

The dinner came the night before Duterte addressed a crowd of about 2,000 people at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, in what was dubbed as a forum with the Filipino community in Hong Kong, but also included agency owners and other Chinese VIPs.

The mainly overseas Filipino workers in the audience did not get to ask questions during the “forum” and some went home hungry because of the long queue for the Jollibee food packs that they had to queue for.

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