I HAVE assumed a new role as a member of the board of trustees of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), having been appointed last April 20. To be proactive in my service in government, I decided to ask other government agencies what is the main policy preoccupation that is common to all the agencies of government. I was validated in my hopes that indeed the concentration is on the overseas Filipino migrant worker, which is the commanding segment of the Philippine economic force. I coordinated with former congressman Omar Fajardo and his wife, Assistant Secretary Ameenah Fajardo of the Department of Trade and Industry. Omar Fajardo was the former representative of the OFW party-list in 1994. He was the first OFW representative in Congress. He has been giving support to overseas Filipino workers for the past so many years. Although he has not been a congressman for years, he has not stopped helping and is still focused on servicing the needs and requirements of OFWs. His wife, Ameenah, handles the projects and concerns of OFWs at the DTI.
In my interview with the Fajardo couple, I was informed that they were invited by a member of the ruling royal family of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Hassan Nasser J.M al-Thani, for an important meeting timed with the state visit of President Duterte. Through their efforts, a Qatar-based Filipino company, Sta. Clara, was able to finalize a memorandum of agreement for a piping project in Qatar. They then joined the entourage of the President when he arrived in Qatar to be welcomed by 250,000 cheering Filipinos.
The Fajardos visited the displaced and disenfranchised OFWs in the OWWA Center where 90 abused, oppressed and misinformed OFWs were given sanctuary while waiting for their exit papers to return home. Asec Fajardo informed them of the programs of the Department of Trade and Industry awaiting them and their families.
The DTI has 470 “Negosyo Centers with OFW Helpdesk” which has a unit in every region, province and municipality for business registration assistance. They also accept and facilitate all new registration and renewal applications of MSMEs, including applications for barangay micro-business enterprise (BMBE); business advisory services, assist MSMEs in meeting regulatory requirements to start and maintain the business to build local support networks and establish market and linkages for MSME development through the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development (MSMED) Council. They also facilitate access to grants and other forms of financial assistance, shared service facilities and equipment, and other support for MSMEs through national government agencies (NGAs). The DTI also ensures management guidance, assistance and improvement of the working conditions of MSMEs, co-organize with the local chambers of commerce, other business organizations and government agencies. There is a mentoring program for prospective and current entrepreneurs and investors.
They also conduct other programs or projects for entrepreneurial development in the country aligned with the MSMEs development plan. Furthermore, they have a business information and advocacy unit that provides information and services in training, financing, marketing and other areas as may be required by MSMEs. DTI also does monitoring and evaluation monitoring and recommending business-process improvement for MSMEs They can establish a feedback mechanism among the MSMEs in the respective jurisdictions of Negosyo Centers, and perform such other functions that may be assigned by the MSMED Council in accordance with RA 10644 and other related laws. Other projects are: Kapatid Mentor Me project, SMERA, Shared Service Facilities, and P3 (Pondo Para sa Pagbabago at Pag-asenso).
And finally, the Fajardos met with Delfin Montenegro, an OFW leader in Qatar and a TFC correspondent whom they introduced to Sheikh Hassan Nasser J.M al-Thani to further give weight to the importance of the OFWs in Qatar.
The author served as energy undersecretary in 2009 to 2010 and was adviser to the province of Zambales 1998-2007. She created the Zambales Investment Portfolio in several languages to aid foreign investors from where the first Zambales tourism plan was created. She is an independent consultant concentrating on the tech overlay in government legacy systems, Fintech and Regtech. https://www.linkedin.com/in/usecmagsaysay/