Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello, concurrent GRP Panel Chair for Peace Negotiations with the CPP/NPA/NDF, seeks support for the ongoing peace talk from more than 300 Filipinos during a Peace Forum held Sunday, January 22 in Milan, Italy.
The Philippine Consulate General, including the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and OWWA, conducted the peace forum in collaboration with the OFW Watch Italy, a confederation of more than 120 Filipino organizations in Italy.
Consul General Marichu Mauro referred to the peace forum as a groundbreaking event, being the first of its kind to be held in Milan since the establishment of the Consulate in 1995. She conveyed to Secretary Bello the importance of all overseas Filipinos being stakeholders in the “bigger table” of the peace process.
Secretary Bello conveyed the assurances of President Rodrigo Duterte to all overseas Filipinos to streamline the procedure in obtaining travel documents, and to establish an OFW bank to handle the remittances of Filipino workers. Secretary Bello discussed the ongoing peace process and emphasized the importance of eliminating the root causes of conflicts in the Philippines, where the social and economic impact of peace in the nation will no longer drive the Filipinos out to work in foreign lands. He said that “peace is sine qua non to progress”.
During the open forum, the Filipino community expressed its concern on the peace and order situation in their hometown that affects their education and business investments. They also expressed the need for reintegration assistance considering that the first generation of Filipino migrants in Italy seeks to return to the country. In response, the Secretary talked of the President’s dream to win the Filipinos back, when there are more investments and decent jobs to keep them at home.
Joining Secretary Bello during the Peace Forum were GRP Panel Members Atty. Angela Trinidad and Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, Director Jesus Cruz of DOLE and Acting Labor Attache and OWWA Welfare Officer Jocelyn Hapal.