(DAVAO CITY, August 30) The Regional Development Council (XI)’s Sub-Committee on Migration and Development conducted the first Migration and Development (M&D) Forum on 30 August 2022, at 8:00AM-12:30PM via Zoom, and streamed live on Facebook.

In her opening message, NEDA Regional Office XI Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim gave an overview on the migration situation in the Region, in reference to the first National Migration Survey published by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) in 2018. Dir. Lim underscored the role of migrants, especially the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), to the local and national economy. Dir. Lim also pointed out that in order to maximize the benefits of migration while protecting the welfare of Filipino migrants, partnerships and coordination among key implementers of frontline services for the Filipino migrants during the whole process of migration, must have consistent synergy.

With the theme “Sustaining partnerships and programs for the Filipino Migrants,” the RDC XI-SCMD’s first M&D Forum aimed at showcasing what has been done in Davao Region to support our Filipino migrants and their families.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) XI Regional Director, Atty. Randolf C. Pensoy, presented the agency’s assistance to OFWs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such programs and services were also highlighted in the M&D Virtual Gallery, an online webpage that encapsulates Davao Region’s programs and services for the Filipino migrants and their families, directory of OFW Help Desks, and success stories on migration and development in the Region. The gallery may be accessed via NEDA Davao’s website. To complement RD Pensoy’s presentation and the M&D Virtual Gallery, video testimonies from the OFWs in Davao Region themselves, who benefitted from the reintegration programs of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Regional Welfare Office XI, were shown during the program as well.

The Forum participants were also apprised on the latest updates on the migration sector as OIC-Assistant Secretary Reynaldo R. Cancio of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Policy and Planning Group discussed migration and development in the Socioeconomic Agenda for 2023-2028. In addition, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Assistant Secretary Jerome A. Alcantara tackled DMW’s priority programs, projects, and activities geared towards enhancing OFWs’ protection.

The National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), represented by Ms. Elizabeth Zambarrano, shared NRCO’s program on the Women Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home or the Women REACH, aimed to provide gender-responsive economic and social services for migrants. The Women REACH program has successfully empowered return women OFWs by guiding them in starting and managing their own micro-enterprises, including those in Davao Region.

Open forum followed each knowledge session that was highly participated in by the Filipino migrants, and private organizations.

A virtual pledge of commitment to support the various migration and development initiatives for Filipino migrants in Davao Region was also facilitated, led by the Acting RDC XI Chairperson and NEDA XI Regional Director Maria Lourdes D. Lim.

The event was attended by 165 participants from regional line agencies, local government units, state universities and colleges, private sector, and Filipino internal and international migrants – beneficiaries of Balik Probinsya, Bagong Pag-asa (BP2P) Program and OFWs. Participants, especially the Filipino migrants, greatly appreciated the informative and relevant topics discussed during the knowledge sharing sessions. They also expressed gratitude for providing them an avenue to participate in discussions relative to migration and development in Davao Region. (Katrina M. Sanchez, EDS I, DRD)