ENFiD Italy joined the Mini-Conference and First General Assembly of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora-Europe in Madrid. Msgr. Jerry Bitoon represents Italy in the new ENFiD Board.

Madrid – Through the scorching heat wave of Madrid, the 30-some delegates to the Mini-Conference and First General Assembly of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora buckled down to accomplish their intentions. It was an intensive 3-day meeting (11-13 July 2014) for the representatives of 11 countries present: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Special guests invited to address the conference was led by Philippine Ambassador to Italy, Virgilio Reyes, a guiding force in the formation of ENFiD from its beginnings in the 2012 Rome Diaspora-to-Dialogue, keynoted the Mini-Conference counseling that ENFiD’s human resource potential be harnessed complemented by available innovation and information technology . Philippine Consul General Emmanuel Fernandez of Spain voiced the social effects of migration in dysfunctional Filipino families. Madrid Mayor Dña Ana Maria Botella sent her personal message through Counsellor JesusMoreno Sanchez, head of city’s Migration Division, reiterating the historical bond between Spain and thePhilippines and complimenting on the positive presence and contribution of Filipino workers in Spain.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Spain, Maria Jesus Herrera Ceballos, Chief of Mission, emphasized the need to seize the opportunities of the economic and social integration impact in world migration. Philippine Consul Juan Dayang of Czech Republic focused on the economic contribution of Overseas Filipino Workers in reducing poverty incidence and increased welfare and the impact of international migration on consular affairs and diplomacy. Fr. Jose Luis Pinilla Martin, S.J. of the Episcopal Commission of Migration ended the conference sharing views of the Spanish Church on immigration as an opportunity that strengthen its communities, and rejuvenates their parishes in their ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

The General Assembly worked to ratify its Constitution and By-Laws and adopted the working objective to strengthen ENFiD as an organization by agreeing to register the ENFiD trademark in the immediate future and setup a permanent secretariat using its recognition in the EuropeanCommunity Transparency Registry as the starting point. The body conducted a self-analysis of its strengths and weaknesses from which it agreed to map out a practical achievable Five-Year Strategy that will define ENFiD’s direction and where to position itself in the local (Philippines), regional (Europe) and international environment of migration.

The assembly agreed to increase the ENFiD Board to 9 country-members. Eight candidates from 7 countries vied for 5 open positions in the Board. Each had a 5 minutes to make their case for election and those not physically present were beamed via skype video.

As a result the new ENFiD Board, is now represented by Marison Rodriguez (Czech Republic), Gene Alcantara (UK), Msgr. Jerry Bitoon (Italy), Virgilio Cuizon (Germany), Denis Mana-ay (France), Renee Ikdal (Norway), Rachel Hansen (Sweden), Rohlee de Guzman (Netherlands) and Diomedes Eviota (Switzerland).

The meeting resolved to hold its 2nd General Assembly and Conference in October 2015, possibly in Nice, France.

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