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The Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF), chaired by the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch and co-chaired by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas led the celebration of International Migrants Day with the National Forum on Migration held on December 18, 2018 at Hotel Jen, Pasay City. In the Philippines, the month of December is celebrated as the “Month of Overseas Filipinos” in honor of the significant contributions of the more than 10 million overseas Filipinos to Philippine development and nation-building. In the global scene, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day in 2000.

The culminating activity in the series of fora for this year, the Forum was attended by 250 participants that include overseas Filipinos, OFW families, academe, representatives from the government and other stakeholders in the migration process. It was supported by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) chaired by the Department of Justice.

The theme of this year’s forum is “KAALAMAN SA PERA, MAGINHAWANG BUHAY ANG DALA: TOWARDS FINANCIAL LITERACY FOR OVERSEAS FILIPINOS AND THEIR FAMILIES.” This is in line with the policy pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte of providing assistance to overseas Filipinos and bringing government services closer to migrants, including financial literacy and investment opportunities for overseas Filipinos and their families. The Forum highlighted the various financial literacy programs of the government, private sector and civil society organizations offered to returning OFWs, trafficking victims and other overseas Filipinos.

Ms. Carmelita Nuqui gave the welcome remarks and shared the several activities organized by the IAC-MOF since October 2018. POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia delivered the keynote message of DOLE Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III. He stated the importance of collaborative work among the migration stakeholders to empower migrants for financial stability. CFO Secretary Justice Francisco “Nick” Acosta also graced the event.

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Resource speakers include Assistant City Prosecutor Rey P. Inciong of IACAT-DOJ who discussed the status of human trafficking in the Philippines and interventions provided to overseas Filipino victims and survivors; Mr. Karl Christian Vega, a former OFW from Dubai and a MOFYA awardee who shared his success story as a migrant returnee. He currently owns and manages various businesses that include KCVega Construction and Supply and KCVega Properties, involved in construction, real properties, dormitories, resort and hotel accommodations; Ms. Lenlen Mesina of Enrich Hong Kong who discussed the impact of financial empowerment education programs for migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong; Mr. Melvin D. Caseda of NRCO who discussed the reintegration programs and services for returning OFs and OFWs; Ms. Olive O. Rivera of DTI who discussed entrepreneurship and investment opportunities for overseas Filipinos; and Usec. Astravel Pimentel-Naik who discussed PESO Sense: Financial Literacy Campaign for Overseas Filipinos and Their Families, and friendly financial tips for OFs and OFW Families.

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Dir. Andrelyn R. Gregorio of OWWA, Mr. Aurelio B. Miguel of Pag-IBIG Fund, Mr. Antonio Danao of PhilHealth, Mr. Romell V. Regino of SSS, and Ms. Caroline J. Mutia of DSWD discussed updates on their respective government programs and services for OFs and OFWs.

The Forum served as a god platform to discuss about the different issues of and recent initiatives concerning Filipino migrants such as the Global Compact on Migration, the endemic problem on poverty that often leads to migration, trafficking involving family members as perpetrators, and the importance of engaging in business and investment for OFs and their families who usually have the financial capital.

The participants were also treated to a raffle and cultural presentation and soulful song numbers performed by Tenor Conrado Calnea Ong III (supported by NCCA) and Ms. Michelle Dawn Bande of CFO. A short film “Ang Pagbabalikbayan ang Bagong Bayanihan” made thru the collaborative effort of OWWA, NRCO and IOM was also shown.

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The event was hosted by Dir. Ivy Miravalles of CFO.

Other MOF activities organized by the IAC-MOF for this year include the Migrant Health Fair and Regional Fora on Migration in Pangasinan, Negros Oriental and Misamis Oriental, International Fora on Migration in Malaysia and UAE, and Cineforum on Migration.