x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Minister praises Filipino expatriate foundation

The Minister of Social Affairs has praised an initiative by a group of Filipino expatriates who set up a foundation to help their countrymen in the UAE and at home.

ABU DHABI // Mariam Mohammed Khalfan al Roumi, the Minister of Social Affairs, has praised an initiative by a group of Filipino expatriates who set up a foundation to help their countrymen in the UAE and at home. The minister met Libran Cabactulan, the Philippines' ambassador in the UAE, on Oct 13 to discuss the Filipino Expatriates in UAE Foundation (Filex UAE). Filex plans to give scholarships to children of low-income Filipino expatriates, promote entrepreneurial activities and provide money to the victims of calamities and natural disasters in the Emirates and the Philippines.

"The minister expressed her appreciation on the establishment of Filex as an instrument of the Filipino community to provide assistance to Filipino nationals who are in great financial need," Mr Cabactulan said. Membership of Filex is open to all Filipinos living in the UAE, while other nationalities, companies and entities can become members of the Circle of Filex Advocates. As of June, there were 324,912 Filipinos in the UAE, according to official records from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Almost half of the community, about 120,000 people, live in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

Since there is no law on the formation of charitable foundations by foreigners in the UAE, Mrs Roumisaid the present arrangement would continue. "In our case, Filex is registered officially in the Philippines and operates in the UAE under the auspices of the Philippine embassy, like other foreign cultural associations," said Mr Cabactulan. Dick Orense, the Filex interim chairman, said he was pleased to learn from Mr Cabactulan that the minister had spoken well of the foundation, and that they had a productive meeting.

Filex has enlisted 1,600 members since its formal launch in August. "Most of the members had taken advantage of the one-off payment of Dh30 (US$8), equivalent to a lifetime membership," he said. Those with UAE residence visas must pay Dh15 a year towards a group accident insurance security. This entitles them to benefits including coverage for accidental death, total accident disability, payment for medical fees and repatriation of remains to the Philippines.

On Oct 21, Mr Cabactulan and Mr Orense met with Dr Ali Abdullah al Kaabi, the chairman of the Red Crescent Authority (RCA), to discuss the possibility of Filex holding joint activities with the UAE RCA and the Philippine National Red Cross. The group plans to visit Ras al Khaimah on Friday and Ruwais on Nov 27 to promote its ongoing membership fund campaign, with a goal of recruiting 100,000 members in a year's time.

rruiz@thenational.ae