Koko Pimentel, the presumed winner for the 12th senatorial slot in the 2007 elections following the completion of the first half of the protest case he filed against Migz Zubiri, stressed recently the indispensable need of bridges for overseas Filipinos in order for them to be given the attention and protection they deserve from the government.
This was stressed by Koko in his inspirational address last April 3 at Klub Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City, during the installation of the first set of officers of the Philippine chapter of Overseas Filipino Council International (OFCI), a group incorporated in the USA for the purpose of serving as the “Torchbearer, Bridge Builder and Pledge Keeper” for all socially-conscious Filipinos around the globe.
OFCI is small but its goals are profound: it aims to work in so many areas to help the Filipinos and their country.
Among the beneficiaries of OFCI are the overseas Filipinos, contract workers or otherwise, who are heroes for contributing at least $14 billion to the country’s economy every year in the form of remittances.
One of OFCI’s goals is to build a bridge for all Filipinos to cross over from their problems.
Koko cited the problem of Filipinos caught after serving as drug mules, three of them were executed recently in China and other Filipinos sentenced to die in many jails abroad and acknowledged others facing cases virtually without help.
Koko also mentioned Filipinos sleeping under a bridge in Saudi Arabia because they cannot go home for lack of funds for their return trip.
He admitted that problems like these often occur beyond the control and knowledge of the government, but NGOs are more often already there starting the help before the authorities can know and come.
As such, Koko counted on the indispensability for NGOs like OFCI to serve as bridges to bring to the fore the concerns and issues common to all overseas Filipinos.
“I am encouraging OFCI to build a bridge that will link the overseas Filipinos, OFWs or otherwise, to the government that is in a better position to help,” stressed Koko, promising to bring OFCI’s concerns closer to the heart of Vice-President Jejomar Binay, who is now serving as the czar on OFWs matters under the administration of President Benigno Simeon “PNoy” C. Aquino III.
Installed as officers of the Philippine chapter of OFCI are: Lyndale Marietta Cataluña Causing of Koronadal City, president; Andrew Rimando of La Union, vice-president; Lilia Pelayo of Laguna, Treasurer; Marge Aberasturi of Batangas, Secretary; Myra Tambor of Samar, Auditor; and Berteni “Toto” Cataluña Causing of Manila, press relations officer.
The officers of OFCI are: Anita S. Schon, president and chairperson of the Board of Governors; Roberto Pagarigan, vice-president and vice-chair of the Board of Governors; Sonny Feliciano, secretary and member of the Board of Governors; Carlos Caramanzana, treasurer & member of the Board of Governors; Lourdes Ceballos, public relations officer & member of the Board of Governors; Ernesto Delfin, auditor & member of the Board of Governors; Nelson Paguyo, ex–officio member of the Board of Governors.