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OFWs still welcome in Spain

Filipinos may be allowed to vote in local polls First Posted 17:25:00 03/25/2009

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MANILA, Philippines?Despite the global economic crisis and the rising unemployment in many parts of the world, Spain is still open to overseas Filipino workers, visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said in a press conference at the start of his three-day official visit in Manila.

Praising their invaluable contribution to Spain?s economy, Moratinos said the estimated 50,000 Filipinos there are immune from the effects of the crisis. He said that since Spain allows dual citizenship after two years? residency, there could be as many 300,000 Filipinos there.

?They are very much welcome?They have good [work] experience. Not everything is rosy in Spain, but Filipinos are not affected by the crisis in general. We are very much happy, grateful to this community. We are appreciative of their work,? he said.

At the same time, Moratinos said the Spanish government is planning to expand civil rights to all Filipinos in Spain by allowing them to vote in local elections.

?We?re trying to see if it?s possible?so that they can participate more broadly and their concern can be taken into consideration,? he said.

Most Filipinos in Spain work in the service sector and live in the cities of Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, and Bilbao.

With Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Moratinos signed three agreements, primarily the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation giving the country a grant of five million euros for the improvement of health among the poorest communities in the Philippines.

The two officials also signed an agreement allowing the dependents of the diplomatic, consular, administrative, and technical staff of the diplomatic missions of the Philippines in Spain, as well as of Spain in the Philippines, to work for remuneration.

They also signed a memorandum of understanding between DFA?s Foreign Service Institute and the Escuela Diplomatica of Spain?s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation to help train personnel.

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