The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is a Philippine government agency that is directly connected to the Office of the President of the Philippines. CFO was established on June 16, 1980, with the proclamation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 79.
The agency is in charge of promoting and protecting the interests of Filipino emigrants and permanent residents in other countries. It is also in charge of maintaining and strengthening ties with Filipino communities outside of the Philippines. It is led by the Chairman of the Commission on Filipinos Abroad.
The CFO provides counseling sessions that are designed to provide adequate information about intermarriage and migration, the cultural and social realities of living abroad, and available support networks for women in distress.
What is the meaning of CFO?
Capacitate our people through continuous professional development anchored on social responsibility;
Formulate policies and facilitate quality and citizen-centric programs and services that exceed the expectations of the public we serve; and
Optimize the benefits of migration with overseas Filipinos as development partners of the Philippines and their host countries while addressing the social costs.
Purpose of CFO
The CFO registers emigrants and provides them with pre-departure orientation seminars. It also encourages technology transfer as well as material and financial contributions from overseas for development projects in underserved communities throughout the Philippines.
It also allows younger generations of Filipinos living abroad to learn about Philippine history and culture.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), established by Batas Pambansa 79 on June 16, 1980, is a Philippine Government agency under the Office of the President tasked with promoting and protecting the interests, rights, and welfare of overseas Filipinos while also strengthening their ties with the Motherland.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas can be traced back to the passage of Presidential Decree No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines) in 1974, which established the Office of Emigrant Affairs, as well as the Overseas Employment Development Board (now POEA) and other offices.
The years that followed were marked by a steady increase in migration, necessitating the establishment of an independent unit that would serve as a local support network exclusively for Filipino emigrants.
In the month of June 1980, Batas Pambansa Blg. 79 was passed to strengthen the government’s policy on migrant welfare and interest. It established the Commission on Filipinos Abroad, which replaced the OEA but retained and expanded its mandate. Filipino emigrants were specifically named as recipients of the decree’s services.
Functions and Responsibilities
Batas Pambansa Blg. 79, mandates the CFO to perform the following functions:
- Assist the President and the Philippine Congress in developing policies and measures pertaining to or affecting Filipinos living abroad.
- Develop and implement programs to promote the interests and well-being of Filipinos living in other countries.
- Serve as a forum for the preservation and strengthening of Filipinos living abroad’ social, economic, and cultural ties to their homeland.
- Liaise with appropriate government and private agencies in the Philippines on behalf of Filipinos living abroad in the transaction of business and similar ventures.
List of CFO Programs and Services
Here are some programs offered by CFO:
BaLinkBayan: Overseas Filipinos’ One Stop Online Portal for Diaspora Engagement
CFO’s BaLinkBayan, which serves as a one-stop online portal for diaspora engagement, offers a variety of options for overseas Filipinos to partner with national and local governments in starting a business, donating and volunteering, and accessing online government services.
Community Education Program (CEP)
The Community Education Program (CEP) is a public awareness campaign coordinated by the CFO in collaboration with various government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local government units (LGUs), and academic institutions.
The program aims to reach out to prospective migrants and assist them in making informed decisions about overseas employment or permanent residence abroad.
The CEP also aims to increase community involvement in migration concerns, raise public awareness on various aspects of migration such as cross-cultural relationships and inter-marriages, illegal recruitment, human trafficking, mail-order spouse schemes, and existing government policies, programs, and services that address these concerns.
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking – Advocacy and Communications Committee (IACAT-ADVOCOM)
IACAT-ADVOCOM coordinates the conduction of massive information dissemination and campaigns on the existence of the law and the various issues and problems associated with trafficking through local government units, concerned agencies, and NGOs.
Assistance and Counselling Program
“Itanong mo kay Ato!”
The CFO established an online legal counseling service in collaboration with the Arellano Law Foundation to address cases of human trafficking, illegal recruitment, and mail-order spouse schemes, among other things.
It is a web application that can be accessed by the general public, including those living abroad. Partner lawyers will provide legal advice via live chat or e-mail 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and all information will be kept private and confidential.
“CFO-SIS: Itanong mo kay SIS!”
Itanong mo SIS! is a free web and mobile application-based counseling and guidance service that provides consultation, coaching and counseling with the help of partner counseling experts from various sectors. Filipinos living abroad can seek counseling from licensed counselors and life coaches via mobile messaging apps (Viber, Facebook, and WhatsApp), which are available online and through mobile messaging apps (Viber, Facebook, and WhatsApp).
Lingkod sa Kapwa Filipino (LINKAPIL) or Link for the Philippine Development
The LINKAPIL program facilitates the transfer of various types of resources from Filipinos living abroad to support small-scale, high-impact projects that address the country’s social and economic development needs. Specifically, LINKAPIL directs diaspora philanthropy to four major areas of development assistance:
- support Filipino youth education through scholarship grants, the purchase of educational materials, and the construction of classrooms;
- provision of livelihood opportunities by financing income-generating activities of marginalized sectors or victims of natural disasters;
- growth through small infrastructure projects such as water wells, latrines, and house construction.
- Supporting healthy communities through feeding programs, medical missions, or donations of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment.
Migration Advocacy and Media (MAM) Awards
This was established in 2011 by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas for the celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos and International Migrants Day every December. This is to recognize the significant role of media in giving reliable information, as well as the advocacy of migration and development.
The MAM Awards recognize the positive and significant contributions of media outlets, institutions, and practitioners in the fields of print, radio, film and television, advertising, and the internet from government and private media organizations in the Philippines and abroad in raising public awareness on Filipino migration issues (i.e., human trafficking, illegal recruitment, brain drain and brain circulation, remittance flows, political crisis, families left behind, and so on).
Month of Overseas Filipino
In June 1988, then-President Corazon C. Aquino issued Proclamation No. 276, designating December 1988 as the “Month of Overseas Filipinos” for the rest of the year. It recognized overseas Filipinos who, through their taxes and remittances, contributed to the restoration of Philippine democracy and development. Later on, Administrative Order No. 202 was issued by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to establish the Inter-Agency Committee for the Month of Overseas Filipinos, with the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW, an umbrella organization of migrant civil society organizations) as Chair and the CFO as Co-Chair.
Overseas Filipino Centenarian Awards and Incentives
This law became effective on July 15, 2016. All Filipino centenarians, whether in the Philippines or abroad, will be honored with a centenarian gift of Php100,000 and a Letter of Felicitation from the Philippine President congratulating the Filipino centenarian on his/her longevity.
Peso Sense or The Philippines Financial Freedom campaign
CFO launched the Philippine Financial Freedom Campaign or PESO Sense in October 2013 to assist overseas Filipinos and their families in developing or improving personal financial strategies, skills, and knowledge.
PESO Sense makes use of new technology to reach out to all Filipinos, whether they are remittance senders or receivers. The PESO Sense campaign employs easily accessible communication channels such as the internet (www.pesosense.com) and social media (www.facebook.com/pesosense).
The online PESO Sense financial literacy module was created with six specific profiles in mind: students, young adults, business owners, employed people, stay-at-home moms, and retirees.
Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas
This program was established in December 1991 by Executive Order No. 498, is a biennial award given to distinguished Filipino individuals and organizations in recognition of their outstanding contributions to national development efforts or outstanding achievements in their field of profession.
The awards, which are implemented and managed by CFO, are also given to foreign individuals and organizations that help the country or advance the cause of Filipino communities around the world. There are 400 Presidential awardees from 44 countries as of 2014.
CFO conducts the Ugnayan Series in collaboration with various government and non–government agency partners for the Commission to continue reaching out to Filipinos in various regions of the world to monitor migrants’ welfare and discuss means of cooperation for diaspora engagement.
It also aims to empower Filipino communities by encouraging them to engage in entrepreneurial and investment activities, as well as to promote social remittances.
YouLead (Youth Leaders in the Diaspora)
YouLeaD is a platform that allows Filipino youth living abroad to rediscover their Filipino roots and heritage. YouLeaD (then known as Lakbay-Aral) is a 1983 program that has been enhanced and kept relevant with today’s youth to instill in them an appreciation of the richness of what it means to be a Filipino.
YouLeaD combines learning about Philippine history and language with guided tours of scenic and historical landmarks, interaction with Filipino students, public officials, and indigenous community members, and participation in local festivities.
The Philippine Government requires CFO or Commission on Filipino Overseas for Filipinos who are leaving the country. This is not a seminar for guidance but also for counseling.
The seminar will tackle the Cultural and Social Realities of Living Abroad for certain awareness and information about your host country. Before boarding, the immigration will check your CFO certificate and CFO sticker on your passport as proof that you’ve attended the said seminar.
This program is not for OFWs going abroad to work, this is exclusive for fiancées, spouses, and family members of foreign nationals who want to bring their family from the Philippines to their home country abroad.
How to Process CFO Certificate and Sticker
Once you have your USA visa, you must register with the CFO and obtain your CFO sticker, which will be attached to your Philippine passport. So, while you can attend the seminar before receiving the visa, you must return after receiving the visa in your passport to obtain the CFO sticker.
You may visit the CFO office in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Davao City, or Clark Pampanga. For more information on each location, visit the CFO’s website at https://www.cfo.gov.ph/.
Please don’t forget to check the counseling session schedule before going to CFO because it is country-specific and the slots are limited to 15 per session. It is based on a first-come, first-served basis. The counseling fee is P400.00.
You will be required to bring several documents to the CFO seminar, including the ones listed below. These requirements are subject to change at any time, so you should also consult the official CFO website.
Video: Guide to CFO Certificate Registration
Here’s a vide about the CFO registration process:
Frequently Asked Questions
Please check out these questions and answers about the CFO agency:
1. What is CFO?
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is a Philippine government agency under the Office of the President tasked with promoting and protecting the interests, rights, and welfare of overseas Filipinos while also strengthening their ties to the Motherland.
The CFO registers emigrants and provides them with pre-departure orientation seminars.
2. How much do I need to pay for CFO seminar?
You only need to pay P400.00
3. What can I get from CFO?
CFO provides emigrants and potential migrants with information on immigration policies and basic laws in their host countries, rights and obligations abroad, and support services available to them through its pre-departure services and extensive local community education programs.
4. When can I get my CFO registration sticker?
It can take 3-5 days for NCR areas, and 3-7 for provinces.
5. What is the CFO sticker for?
If you completed the registration procedures and attended the departure orientation course for EVP, you will receive a CFO registration sticker.
6. Does CFO office assist OFWs?
Yes, CFO can assist OFWs (Permanent Residents or Dual Citizens)
7. Can descendants be beneficiaries of CFO programs?
Yes, it is defined in B.P.79.
If OFWs have PDOS and PDEP, there is also a seminar called CFO for Filipino fiancée, spouse, and family members of foreign nationals from the Philippines. For awareness of everyone who wants to go to their fiancée, spouse, or parents in their home country, you need to undergo this seminar.
This will protect your rights against violence abroad, as well as the culture shock that is commonly being experienced by Filipinos migrating abroad.
CFO also assists the government in developing policies for Filipinos living abroad. There is also a number of programs under CFO that will benefit Filipinos from education, heritage, and social and economic integration.
Commission on Filipinos Overseas
Main Office Address: Citigold Center, 1345 Quirino Ave, Paco, Manila, 1007 Metro Manila
Telephone Number: (02) 8552 4700
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CFOGovPH