The Days to Remember – Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 1998
by: OFW Congress-Riyadh
10 years ago, on November 27 and December 4, 1998, elections were held at the OWWA Center to select the 21 Executive Council members from among 78 duly-registered candidates. The Committee on Elections, consisting of the Philippine Embassy staff, supervised the election that was perceived by the community to have been free and honest.
It was a defining community experience when some 8,000 OFWs gathered to express their right of suffrage. (Many other compatriots were unable to vote because the OWWA Center could not accommodate the great number of people who gathered then.) Who would have imagined that we could hold such an exercise free of the goons, gold and guns so pervasive at home?
Former Consul Jesus Gary S. Domingo (now Minister, Philippine Mission to the United Nations, Geneva), who was chairman of the COMELEC, likened it “to a blooming in full of a flower in the middle of the desert, born under the most trying of conditions. It was unprecedented, an achievement that prides us all to say that we can hold such clean, free and honest election. It yielded us a rich harvest of goodwill and allowed us to look forward as a community united in our efforts to promote our common good.”
He cited further the parallelism between the OFW Congress and the Malolos Congress.
“The Malolos Congress established a government to unify the many islands of the country. The OFW Congress a hundred years later was born as a step in the struggle of overseas Filipinos to become part of the bigger Philippine society, to become a true and active partner in nation building, even while in the state of diaspora.”
On December 11, 1998, the inaugural session of the Congress was then held at the Philippine embassy grounds in Riyadh. As the first-ever deliberative assembly of OFWs in Saudi Arabia, and possibly elsewhere, the Congress served as the highlighting event of the Filipino community’s celebration of December as the OFW Month.
On January 14, 1999, at the Philippine Embassy, the Executive Council selected its officers and assigned portfolios to the Council members.
The Executive Council known as the EXECON convened a CONCOM (Constitutional Commission) who adopted and promulgated its Constitution and By-Laws.
On March 15, 1999 the OFW CONGRESS was formally established and promulgated its Constitution and By-Laws.
The structure of the OFW Congress definitely allows participation of organizations and individuals community-wide. In fact, the OFW Congress, through its General Assembly, is the forum for which organizations can discuss and resolve issues of common concern. The General Assembly has passed a number of resolutions and advocates OFW Issues and concerns.
Organizations, leaders and members alike, are welcome to participate in both the Central Committee and the General Assembly, for the common good, the rights and welfare of fellow OFWs. No matter if we are all volunteers to the tasks, our greater vision is to seek a better place under the sun for OFWs and their families in a progressive Philippines.
In Article II, Section 1 of its Constitution and By-Laws states the following:
The OFW Congress recognizes the enactment of Republic Act No. 8042 known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Act of 1995. It shall therefore, act as partners of the State in the protection of Filipino migrant workers and in the promotion of their welfare. Towards this end, the organization shall plan, initiate, advocate, and spearhead the drafting, lobbying, passage of motions, measures, resolutions and position papers on vital issues affecting the rights, welfare and economic well being of the OFW’s.
10 Years Ago – Nov. 27 to Dec. 4, 1998 “The Days to Remember”.