The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) led the Philippine Celebration of the International Migrants Day with the National Forum on Migration and Mini-Trade Fair held on December 18, 2019 at Hotel Jen, Pasay City.
As the culminating event in the series of activities of the Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on the Celebration of the “Month of Overseas Filipinos” for this year, the forum was attended by 200 participants that included overseas Filipinos, OFW families, members of the academe, representatives from the government, and other stakeholders in migration. It was sponsored by the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking chaired by the Department of Justice.
In the Philippines, the month of December is celebrated as the “Month of Overseas Filipinos” in honor of the significant contributions of 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 theme of this year’s forum is “OFs NGAYON, BALIK–PINAS BUKAS,” highlighting the policy pronouncement of President Rodrigo Duterte of “making migration a choice rather than a necessity for every Filipino” and for bringing government services closer to migrants and their families. The forum highlighted the various reintegration programs of the government, private sector, and civil society organizations offered to returning OFWs, trafficking victims, and other overseas Filipinos.
The keynote speaker for the forum was Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, who showcased the various programs and services of DOLE and its attached agencies for the welfare of OFWs. He also emphasized the initiatives of the government, particularly the “Build, Build, Build Program”, that opened numerous local employment opportunities so no Filipinos will be forced to worked abroad.
Other resource speakers include Ms. Carmelita Nuqui, Chair of the IAC-MOF and President of the PMRW; Usec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, chair of IACAT- DOJ; Dir. Regina Galias of CFO (representing Sec. Francisco Acosta and Usec. Astravel Pimentel-Naik); Mr. Roel Martin of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, who discussed reintegration programs of the NRCO for Returning Overseas Filipinos; Dir. Marita Apattad of the CFO, who discussed the BaLinkBayan Project: One-Stop Shop Web-based Portal for Overseas Filipinos; Atty. Ma. Yvette Tamayo-Coronel of DOJ, who discussed the status of human trafficking in the Philippines; Mr. Edwin C. Pasahol of the Department of Trade and Industry, who discussed Negosyo Centers and Assistance Offered by DTI to MSMEs; Ms. Elena Clemente of the Social Security System, who discussed the SSS Program for Overseas Filipinos; Mr. Philip Raymund Salem of Pag-IBIG Fund, who discussed Pag-IBIG services for overseas Filipinos; Mr. Ringo Danao of PhilHealth who discussed the Universal Health Care for overseas Filipinos; and Asec. Orville Bllitoc of Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, who discussed legislative updates on the proposed Department of OFWs.
Two former OFWs, Ms. Josephine Jasa (2019 Model OFW Family of the Year Award land-based winner) and Mr. Marvin Intal of “Intal Garments Business,” also shared their inspiring success stories.
A simultaneous Mini Trade Fair featured successful businesses owned by OFW families who were assisted by the DTI. Those who showcased their products included Shania’s Homemade Food Products, N. C. Hernandez Food Products, Aging’s Food Delight, Moonlight Handicraft, BDO Herbosido Essential Oils, and James Leathercraft. The International Organization for Migration, Development Action for Women Network, CFO, Presidential Communications Operations Office, DTI-Negosyo Center, and PhilHealth also set up booths and offered their respective services.
The participants were also treated to a raffle and cultural performance by Soprano Stefanie Quintin and guitarist Anton Avila.
The event was hosted by Mr. Rennel Villacastin of IOM-Philippines.
The Celebration of the MOF kicked off as early as October with activities that include Regional Migrant Fairs, Cineforum, Exhibit, Lecture Play, and International Forum on Migration.