Governance Approach in Mainstreaming Migration and Development (M&D)
The Sorsogon City M&D Implementation Experience
Migration and Development started in Sorsogon City when Mayor Sally A. Lee accepted an invitation to participate in a migration and development forum in April of 2014 in Naga City. That forum has been an eye opener for her especially when she had the chance to meet the UNDP Country Director Maurice Dewulf and the Swiss Ambassador Ivo Siever, as well as other heads of the national agencies that are caring for the Filipinos overseas.
Immediately after the forum, the City Mayor pledged to hold in Sorsogon City the 1st Capability-Building Training Workshop on Joint Migration and Development Initiative Phase 2 Project in Bicol Region on September 29-October 1, 2014. The training was participated in by less than 15 LGUs in Bicol. In October 2014, the Mayor Sally A. Lee issued an Executive Order No. 25 series of 2014 creating the Technical Working Group on City Migrants and Overseas Filipinos. This is the first step in a series of initiatives that the City Government embarked on pertaining to Migration & Development. Said EO propelled the series of discussions and planning as to what programs and services will benefit the migrants and their families. With the advice from the City’s TWG, Mayor Sally entered into a Memorandum of Agreement on the Convergence of Programs and Services of DOLE, OWWA, POEA, CFO, and TESDA. Linkages and cooperation with these vital agencies stirred the influx of services and programs on M&D and in the span of one year the City Government was able to execute M&D related projects and activities benefiting overseas Sorsoganons and their respective families.
Through the efforts of the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) wherein the PESO Manager was designated as the Team Leader of the TWG on City Migrants and Overseas Filipinos, the City Government was able to organize a group of overseas Filipinos and relatives in every barangay. During the City Migrants Family Day, these groups were given due recognition because of their active involvement in M&D programs. To show appreciation, bonding activities and get-together were carried out exclusively for them.
During the first year of Migration and Development implementation, the City Government of Sorsogon have no specific fund yet; considering that it was already the last quarter of the year and the budget was already approved. Financing or funding source is indispensable in every programs and projects. However, it did not become a hindrance to implement programs and services for Overseas Filipinos and their families. Initially, all programs and services were implemented through collective support and sharing of funds by Department Heads, members of the TWG on M&D, and was considered for inclusion of OFs/OFWs and their relatives on every program implemented by the City Government. For the sustainability of the program, migration and development is now funded under the Public Employment Service Office.
III. Human Resources
Human resources come from the service providers, partners, and other stakeholders. Foremost is the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) Manager being the TWG Team leader of the City Migrants and Overseas Filipinos who was given the responsibility to implement programs and services for Overseas Filipinos and their families in coordination with other stakeholders and other agencies of DOLE. The PESO coordinates with the Barangay Officials for the conduct of pre-migration orientation (PMOS) including families of Overseas Filipinos.
In addition, through the support of JMDI Bicol, TWG members and officers of the organized OFs/OFWs were sent to trainings and seminars. Among the various trainings, seminars, and services conducted that benefitted the OFs/OFWs were the following: (1) Financial Literacy Seminar conducted by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) to the Families and children of OFs; (2) Information Technology Training for children and relatives; (3) Scholarship Programs for the children of overseas Filipinos; (4) Inclusion of children of OFs in the Summer Job Program; (5) Pre-employment Orientation Seminar on tertiary schools; (6) Anti-illegal Recruitment (AIR) Seminar attended by Barangay and PNP Officials, Academe, City Prosecutor, PESO Managers, and Help Desk Officers; (7) Involvement of OFs and relatives on various city activities; (8) Livelihood Programs in coordination with OWWA for repatriated OFs; (9) Free legal assistance and psychosocial services; (10) enlisting OF family members in Carpentry Course; and the (11) annual December celebration of the City Migrants’ Family Day.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is one of the partners of the City Government in giving livelihood assistance to repatriated OFWs, free Information Technology (IT) training for the OFs and their relatives and other activities such as the annual celebration of the city migrants’ Family day, financial literacy seminar, psycho-social services and others. Aside from OWWA, POEA, DOLE and TESDA, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce, Sorsogon Chapter as member of the TWG on City Migrants’ and Overseas Filipinos also contributes to the annual celebration of the City migrants’ Family Day and other activities of OFs/OFWs. A very laudable endeavor is the establishment of the City Migrants and Overseas Help Desk Center on October 23, 2014. The center now serves the whole province and has become a venue of OF activities.
IV. Data and Communications
The disaggregated data of Overseas Filipinos was one of the perceived problems during the implementation of M&D in Sorsogon City. The TWG initiated the preparation of a simple questionnaire to extract information on migrants. A survey was then conducted by beneficiaries of the Special Program for Employment of Students (SPES) in their respective barangays as they are most acquainted with their own communities. Although some relatives of OFs did not participate and initially refused to give information, still, the gathered data became a useful tool with the existing data from the City’s Community Based Management System (CBMS).
As a result, an organized group of OFs/OFWs and their families emerged. The said group was given the name, PAMOSO or Pamilyang Migrante Orgulyo Kan Sorsogon (Migrants’ Families, Pride of Sorsogon). The implementation of programs, projects, and activities are widely disseminated through IECs (Information, Education, and Communication) materials. Campaigns advocating M&D in radios and televisions are on-going, giving emphasis on the establishment, availability, and accessibility of a City Migrants and Overseas Help Desk Center. Through this center, relatives of OFs need not go to Legazpi City to do simple transactions with OWWA. Members of the M&D TWG have been to the barangay to hold orientation on the advantages as well as the negative impacts of migration in the community so that they can have a good grasp of the migration trends.
Mainstreaming migration and development is continuously done. The City Government thru the Public Employment Service Office conducts series of lectures and orientation to public school teachers, barangay officials and college students on M&D programs and services being implemented by the city. Giving more emphasis on the role of the City Government that the mobility’s positive impacts be maximized and the negative consequences are mitigated.
V. SERVICES – Investments, Savings, Entrepreneurial
The organized migrants’ and their families’ group named PAMOSO or Pamilyang Migrante Orgulyo Kan Sorsogon (Migrants’ Families, Pride of Sorsogon) was involved in a series of consultation-dialogue with Ateneo de Naga University Research Center to determine the feasibility of setting up the proposed Retirement Village. The group went on several field trips to be equipped with actual knowledge as to what kind of livelihood project fits them in coordination with Saint Louie de Marillac College, Sorsogon City. These were the major services offered in terms of investments, savings, and entrepreneurial services.
The Negosyo Center installed at Sorsogon City Hall in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry provides lectures and information as to what possible livelihood projects they may venture feasible in the community. In partnership with Technical Education Skills Development Authority (TESDA)-Sorsogon, different livelihood trainings were offered such as carpentry course, dressmaking, bread making, wellness massage, among others. These services were free of charge, benefitting OF families.
At present, the City Government of Sorsogon entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Filipinos Overseas on the BaLinkbayan Project. This is a localized BaLinkbayan webpage which aims to institutionalized the use of the portal as a virtual Migrant Resource Center for overseas Filipinos and their families’ engagement in their locality where they came from.
VI. SERVICES – Psychosocial
The psychosocial services for distress OFs is done through counseling services and referrals to other authorized and appropriate agencies in partnership with City Social Welfare Development Office (CSWDO) through its Gender and Development (GAD), and Global Filipino Movement—a group of NGO. The Global Filipino Movement, an NGO who helps in giving Psycho-social services on repatriated and distressed OFs, free of charge, assisted in filing complaints against recruiters to POEA.