BERN, Switzerland - An immigration law practitioner and correspondent of ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau will lead a network of Filipinos in Europe that set up its formal mechanisms in a meeting last weekend in Malta.
|L-R (Top): Marison Rodriguez, ENFiD-Czech Republic, Marika Farrugia, Exec Secretary in the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations in Malta, Diomedes Eviota, ENFiD-Switzerland, Rohlee de Guzman, ENFiD-Netherlands, Renee Ikdal, ENFiD-Norway, Jennifer Icao-Calleja, ENFiD-Malta, Amelia Alado, ENFiD-UK Adviser, and Gene Alcantara, ENFiD-UK. (Bottom) Marie Luarca-Reyes, ENFiD Executive Director, Virgilio Reyes, Philippine Ambassador to Italy, and Sebastian Micallef, Commissioner/FOIO in the Commission of Voluntary Organizations in Malta.
Gene Alcantara, correspondent of Balitang Europe, was elected chair of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora or ENFiD by representatives from 7 European countries who met at the Dar L-Emigrant Office in the Maltese capital Valletta.
Also elected were Rohlee de Guzman (Netherlands) as vice-chair; Marison Rodriguez (Czech Republic) as secretary; Renee Ikdal (Norway) as treasurer; and Diomedes Eviota (Switzerland) as communications director.
They compose the ENFiD Board of Directors together with Monsignor Jerry Bitoon (Italy) and the appointed non-country representative, Marie Luarca-Reyes, as ENFiD Executive Director.
The group also formed its constitution and bylaws during the meeting, less than four months after the same group met for a diaspora conference in Rome.
ENFiD said they will register as a regional voluntary organization in Malta, saying the small archipelagic nation in southern Europe is a migrant-friendly nation hosting numerous nationalities.
Malta, which has a population of 419,100, is home to some 1,500 Filipinos, 625 are registered according to 2011 figures from the Commission for Overseas Filipinos.
The meeting was hailed as historic by Philippine Ambassador to Italy Virgilio Reyes, in his remarks before the representatives from the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Norway and host Malta.
Monsignor Philip Calleja of the Office of the Migrants Commissioner also told the representatives that he is hopeful of the help that ENFid would be able to give to migrants.
The ENFiD representatives, together with other migrant groups attended the Sunday mass in Valletta and later held an orientation session with the Filipino community in Malta.
ENFiD was formed after the Diaspora to Dialogue (D2D) conference in Rome last September, which had some 250 Filipino diaspora representatives from 15 European and 7 other participating countries.
The formation of ENFiD is regarded as a higher level of cooperation between the Filipino diaspora in Europe, the Philippine government and European host countries.
The CFO says there were 808,779 Filipinos in Europe in 2011, with the highest concentrations in the UK, Italy, Germany, Greece, Spain and France.