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European network for Filipino diaspora sets up formal structures in Malta

VALLETTA, MALTA-  A new network of  Filipinos in Europe has set up formal mechanisms in a meeting here over the weekend, less than four months after the same groups met for a diaspora conference in Rome.

Representatives from 7 European countries elected the officers of the European Network of Filipino Diaspora or ENFiD  and formed its constitution and bylaws in a meeting at the Dar L-Emigrant Office here in the Maltese capital Valletta.

 Gene Alcantara, a UK-based lawyer, was elected ENFiD chair; while Rohlee de Guzman (Netherlands) was elected vice-chair;  along with Marison Rodriguez (Czech Republic) as secretary; Renee Ikdal (Norway) as treasurer; and Diomedes Eviota (Switzerland) as communications director.  All compose the Board of Directors to include Monsignor Jerry Bitoon (Italy) and the appointed non-country representative, Ms. Marie Luarca-Reyes as the ENFiD Executive Director.

 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 1500 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 was 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 to celebrate the Migrant Day.  Later ENFiD officers 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.   

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