Friday, 15 June 2012
CFO Speaks on Pre-Departure Programs and Migrant Integration in Third Mirpal Conference in Dushanbe
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas was recently invited by the World Bank as one of the resource speakers for the Third Migration and Remittances Peer Assisted (MiRPAL) Conference held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on May 21 to 23, 2012. Director Regina Galias represented Chairperson Imelda M. Nicolas and the CFO. Migration authorities and practitioners from MiRPAL program countries like Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyztan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan participated in the conference. Also joining as resource speakers were Mr. Tomas Achacoso, former POEA Administrator, and Mr. Manolo Abella, former Director of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Similar to the Philippine situation, migration has become an important issue among countries in Europe and Central Asia (ECA). With about 49 million migrants combined, countries from the ECA region found it necessary to learn and draw from experiences of other sending and receiving countries to facilitate the formulation of their respective diaspora policies. MiRPAL, initiated by World Bank, is a network of migration and remittance practitioners and policymakers from the ECA countries.
The objectives of the Third MiRPAL Conference dealt with "Pre-Departure Training and the Role of Sending and Receiving Countries". CFO was invited to discuss the Philippine experience on the following topics: (1) implementing pre-departure programs for overseas Filipinos and (2) the policies and challenges to receiving countries of integration programs for migrants.
In CFO's presentations, Ms. Galias spoke in detail about the different pre-departure programs of the CFO for Filipino emigrants, cultural exchange participants, and spouses and other partners of foreign nationals. She underscored that the objective of such program is to enable the migrant to make informed decisions when he/she arrives in the receiving country. She also presented the pre-departure orientation services of other government agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Ms. Galias emphasized that ECA countries will need to customize the kind of training or pre-departure program it will provide depending on the purpose and classification of the migrants that would avail of it. Countries participating in the MiRPAL Conference were also encouraged to develop a policy that will define whether pre-departure training will be mandatory for their migrants.
On the topic of integration, Ms. Galias noted the unending debate whether integration is the responsibility of the sending or receiving country. She presented though three (3) schemes, based on the Philippine experience, by which assistance to newly-arrived migrants may be provided. These activities may be (1) privately-funded, (2) initiated and funded by the sending country, and (3) funded by the receiving country. She cited Filipino associations abroad and the Bayanihan Center in Hong Kong as primary examples of successful initiatives of the migrants themselves. Participants noted that the voluntary nature of such programs also speaks highly of the enduring characteristic of Filipinos of being helpful to others especially those persons coming from the same community or country. The integration programs offered by Philippine Embassies and Consulates as well as in the Overseas Filipino Resource Centers established in many countries are examples provided on initiatives funded by the Philippine Government. Ms. Galias also presented the Multi-Cultural Family Support Centers in South Korea and the Welcome Immigrant Services Centre in Canada as examples of program initiated and funded by the receiving countries. She opined that while it is more ideal that such comprehensive assistance are provided by receiving countries, the sending countries must also be able to provide resources to extend assistance to its own migrants especially when there are gaps in the services available.
Ms. Galias reiterated that it is important that ECA countries develop its pre-departure program for migrants because it is the first means to engage the diaspora to participate in local development efforts.
The MiRPAL participants unanimously agreed that the Philippines is considered as a best practice in migration management with its long history of sustained and large-scale international migration. At best, the ECA countries committed to proposing policies and programs to their respective government that will enhance their pre-departure services for migrants. The group aims to have a study visit to the Philippines towards the end of the year to see for themselves the actual conduct of the orientation and training conducted by the difference government institutions such as the CFO.
Presentations made by CFO during the Third MiRPAL Conference are available for reference through the CFO website at www.cfo.gov.ph. Proceedings of the MiRPAL Conference may be downloaded via http://bit.ly/mirpal2012.
Contributed by: Ms. Regina Galias, Division Head - AFD