ENFiD 2015 Malta Conference Statement
Rohlee de Guzman
We, the 92 Filipino diaspora delegates and guests coming from 13 countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, Malta, Sweden, Norway) and joined by guests and delegates from the Philippines, United States and Israel, convened in the Second European Regional Overseas Filipinos Conference with the theme “Overseas Filipinos (OF) for Transnational Development Make a Self-Assessment (Ako ay Pilipino, Ganito Ako Ngayon, Paano Ako Bukas / This is how I am today, how will I be tomorrow?)” on August 1-2, 2015 in St. Pauls Bay, Malta hereby state the following:
1. Social Remittances(#1) as drivers of change equal the value that 1 financial remittances carry. Social remittances include also the psychological-emotional-cultural-social (PECS) aspects which OF’s contribute to the Philippines.
2. The effects of financial remittances and social remittances, including PECS, mutually reinforce each other. While financial remittances can effect a change in the Philippine economy, social remittances have the power to positively influence Philippine culture and society.
3. Therefore, social remittances should not be treated as a separate issue but as a cross-cutting element of issues of all migrant concerns.
4. Euro-Pinoys are engaged in various forms of coping strategies while giving content and gestalt to our hyphenated identities(#2). We recognize the merits of cross-cultural/transnational identities in the integration of Euro-Pinoys in the host countries.
5. Due to feminization of Filipino migration in the 80’s and 90’s, Filipino women now hold a crucial role in diffusing the PECS remittances.
6. Poignant issues such as the unfounded Chinese territorial claims in the West-Philippine Sea and Trafficking in Persons have impact on the lives of Euro-Pinoys.
7. The situation of the Filipino youth including 2nd generation and 1.5 generation have special particularities which require specific attention from the Euro-Filipino communities.
8. A lack of gender equality within many Filipino migrant organizations continues and was discussed with concern by the delegates.
9. The Uníted Nation´s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, to be endorsed in September 2015, provide an important policy framework to address concerns worldwide and are recognised as a valuable guidance for the future priorities of ENFiD and partner organizations.
10.The delegates exchanged experiences in being serviced by personnel of the Philippine Embassies and Consulates in Europe. It was noted that in some cases the attitude of personnel in dealing with OF’s was sub-optimal and in need of improvement.
Based on the discussions and agreements, we recommend the following:
1. For ENFiD to take the lead in initiating seminars and meetings about the social remittances, including PECS, at country levels in coordination with other Filcom and other ethnic communities in Europe.
2. For Philippine government institutions, especially the CFO, PhilHealth and other relevant institutions to integrate attention to the social remittances in their policies, programs and projects.
3. For all OF’s to be conscious of the potential positive and negative impacts of their attitudes, behaviour and mind-set (through the social remittances) diffused to families and friends back home and their host countries.
4. For the delegates of this conference, to share with their own organizations the knowledge and consciousness gained from the sessions of this conference as well as the knowledge and insights gained during their daily interaction with fellow delegates.
5. For ENFiD, to function as a platform for coordinating advocacy work at the European level and to establish within the ENFiD structure a special committee to support and assist in streamlining the contents of local and national initiatives like the lobby against Chinese aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
6. For ENFiD, to further promote social-economic development in the Philippines, to partner with various NGOs and institutions and to support efforts to mobilise Diaspora initiatives for local investments. In addition, to assist in providing financial education and highlighting the role of social remittances in development.
7. For ENFiD, to advocate with other overseas Filipino communities globally for setting up opportunities for on-line registration and on-line voting in order to strengthen ties of the OF’s with the Philippines and to further the democratic process in our home country.
8. For the Philippine Government to address the portability of medical health care of Filipinos living in Europe and for ENFiD to initiate a review of various health care systems in European countries to inform the Philippine Government on various options to address this matter.
9. For ENFiD, to promote gender sensitivity concerning issues of migration and development.
10.Explore the possibility of having direct electoral representatives/participation of OF based in the US, Europe and the Middle East in the Philippine Parliament.
11.For ENFiD to conduct a baseline study of Filipino identity, type of remittance and investments made to the Philippines which includes not only financial remittances but also social remittances. The survey questions presented by Ms. Anny Hefti from Berne can be used as a reference.
12.For the DFA, to pay more attention to the selection and performance review of personnel working in Philippine Embassies and Consulates in Europe so that OF’s are treated with more earnestness.
(#1) As defined by Peggy Levitt (1998) social remittances are usually defined as the ideas, 1 practices, identities and social capital that flow from receiving to sending country communities.
(#2) Baubock (1998) talks of additive identities and additive assimilation, which is retaining a 2 previous cultural membership while acquiring a new one.
The Delegates highly appreciated the warm welcome of ENFiD by Malta President Marie Louise Preca. She stressed the positive contribution of the Filipino community in her country and expressed full support to their concerns. Her commitment strengthens ENFiD in further pursuing its goals. We thank the Tourism Ministry of Malta in facilitating the successful hosting of this conference.
The delegates hereby thank all Filipino and Maltese individuals for their warm reception. To the dedicated organizers and secretariat members, our endless gratitude!
This statement was signed on 2 August 2015 in Malta by 92 delegates present.