Monday, May 26, 2014

Naga City mayor to enhance project on migration, development
By John Mark Escandor

NAGA CITY, May 24 (PNA) -- Naga City Mayor John Bongat on has said Friday he will work on enhancing the implementation of the Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) project in Bicol that Naga City is spearheading.

Bongat bared his plan as a result of a five-day official travel to Stockholm, Sweden, where he attended the Global Forum on Migration and Development on May 12-16 and shared Naga City’s experience in mainstreaming migration in the local development planning process.

The global meeting brought together 150 states to discuss how to harness the development potential of migration.

The city mayor claimed that his joining the conference in Sweden gave him an opportunity to learn from other international experiences that will help him in the JMDI project.

He said he also saw the prospect of fostering stronger relationship with counterparts and other international donor agencies that can lead to mutually beneficial undertakings in the future.

Bongat said that in his speech during the forum, he related how Naga City has gone this far in addressing the issues about migration and sustaining the welfare and interests of overseas Filipino workers and their families.

He said the Naga City experience goes back to Aug. 24, 2010 during the European Union-funded Migrants’ Associations and Philippine Institutions for Development (MAPID) project dissemination forum at the Ateneo de Naga University.

During the workshop, the city government, through its City Planning and Development Office, promised to incorporate migration issues in the Comprehensive Development Plan it is preparing.

In Feb. 2011, Bongat recalled, the International Organization for Migration selected Naga City to pilot a project to mainstream migration issues in local development.

It was a strategic choice, he said, driven by the city’s good governance traditions and the opportunity presented by having its former mayor, Jesse Robredo, being appointed as Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary.

More things happened after that which included the creation of a technical working group to spearhead project implementation; sectoral consultations with various stakeholders that generated/validated data about the local Overseas Filipinos (OF) in Naga; project prioritization which identified priority areas for local action; and presentation of Naga City’s comprehensive development plan during the national stakeholders’ consultation in Manila.

From Dec. 2012 to Oct. 2013, the city government, through its CPDO, worked with the national-level Commission for Filipinos Overseas (CFO), an office under the Office of the President, to help the Provincial Government of Pangasinan scale up Naga’s experience at the provincial level.

This led to the creation of Pangasinan”s own Migration and Development Council – its version of Naga’s City Advisory Committee on Overseas Filipinos.

Then last month, the city’s partnership leveled up as it secured a US $ 230,000 grant from the European Union and Switzerland to mobilize and assist replication of Naga experience in 15 LGUs (provinces, cities, municipalities) in Bicol over a period of two years.

Bongat said he told his audience that migration is both a national and local issue and that while national governments often see the need to craft policies for M&D at the macro level, the matter is clearly a local issue, as well.

He stressed that in Naga, for instance, one of every four households has an OF member, and everyone has an OF for a relative.

At the local level, therefore, M&D assumes a human face, Bongat said. (PNA) CTB/FGS/JME/CBD/nod