The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is an agency of the Philippine government directly reporting to the Office of the President. It was designed to promote and protect the interests, rights, and welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). The agency is also in charge of formulating policies and initiating programs that will help strengthen the OFWs ties to international Filipino workers’ communities as well as the homeland.
It was born out of the government’s need to oversee emigrant affairs and ensure that the OFWs are getting the protection they deserve as Modern-Day Heroes. For 20+ years, the CFO did just that, and still continues to do so up to this day. If you are wondering what the CFO does to carry out its mandate, then you may learn more about its purpose, responsibilities, functions, and goals and why it was established in this article below.
What is CFO?
CFO stands for Commission on Filipinos Overseas. It is a Philippine government agency created by virtue of the Batas Pambansa 79 to supersede the Department of Labor and Employment’s Office of Emigrant Affairs. It originated from the enactment of Presidential Decree No. 442 (Labor Code of the Philippines) in 1974, which authorized the establishment of the CFO as well as other offices like the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), formerly Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
As an agency, the CFO’s mandate has always been to promote and uphold the interests, rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos. The agency was also tasked to strengthen the ties between Filipino communities and the state and to carry out programs and projects that will:
- Promote and protect the interests, rights, and welfare of Filipinos overseas;
- Encourage and facilitate meaningful participation among OFWs in terms economic, social, cultural, and political development of the Philippines;
- Foster their links to the Philippines through information and education programs; and
- Assist them in reintegration into Philippine society, as needed.
History of CFO
The history of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) dates back to 1974, upon the enactment of the Presidential Decree No. 442 (also known as the Labor Code of the Philippines). The commission was established, replacing the Office of Emigrant Affairs (OEA) to further strengthen the Philippines’ policy on the promotion of migrant interest and well-being with the signing of the Batas Pambansa 79 in 1980.
Other than the CFO services dedicated to Filipino emigrants, the commission was also tasked with registration and provision of pre-departure orientation seminars, transfer of technology, and safekeeping of material and financial contributions for development projects in underserved communities. It was also meant to provide younger generations of migrant Filipinos with opportunities to learn more about Philippine history and culture, in an effort to strengthen their ties with the Motherland.
As a Philippine agency, the CFO has always worked towards becoming the premier institution in promoting policies, programs, and projects with Migration and Development as bases for the framework that will strengthen and empower the community of Filipinos overseas.
With its effort, the CFO envisions the establishment of a community of well-respected and competitive Filipinos overseas who contribute to the productivity and well-being of the countries where they reside or work. The CFO also hopes that in doing so, its efforts will help maintain strong political, economic, and cultural ties between the OFs and the Philippines.
CFO Quality Policy
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is the government agency responsible for upholding the interests, rights and welfare of overseas Filipinos and strengthening their ties with the Philippines. Also included in the CFO’s mandate is the effective and efficient delivery of gender-responsive policies, programs, and services meant to help uphold the well-being of the community of Filipinos overseas in an effort to:
- Offer continuous professional development anchored on social responsibility;
- Formulate policies and facilitate quality and citizen-centric programs and services; and
- Optimize the benefits of migration with overseas Filipinos (OFs) as development partners of the Philippines and their host countries while addressing the social costs.
With the CFO’s commitment to uphold the principles of good governance and highest standards of excellence, these quality policies are what they adhere to in an effort to comply and continuously improve the management system to deliver on their promise for: “Kalidad na serbisyo para sa mamamayan, abot sa labas ng bayan.”
CFO has been mandated by the Batas Pambansa Blg. 79 to perform the following functions:
- Provide assistance to the relevant authorities in formulating policies and measures concerning or affecting Filipinos overseas;
- Develop and implement programs to promote the interest and well-being of Filipinos overseas;
- Serve as a forum for preserving and enhancing social, economic, and cultural ties of Filipinos overseas with the motherland; and
- Liaise with appropriate government and private agencies on behalf of the Filipinos overseas in the conduct of businesses and similar ventures in the Philippines.
Who can Enjoy the Services of the CFO?
The Batas Pambansa Blg. 79 also identified the following as the primary clientele of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO):
- Filipino permanent migrants or permanent residents abroad
- Overseas Filipinos (OF) who have become naturalized citizens of other countries or dual citizens
- Filipino spouses and other partners of foreign nationals leaving the country
- Descendants of Filipinos overseas, as defined in Batas Pambansa Blg. 79
- Filipino youth overseas
- Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) participants
- Filipino Au Pair participants
CFO Programs and Services
The main function of CFO is to promote and protect the interests, rights, and welfare of Filipinos living overseas.
Some of the programs that CFO initiated to carry out their mandate include:
The CFO’s Ugnayan Series is a collaborative program initiated by the commission in an effort to reach out, monitor, discuss, and cooperate with Filipinos worldwide for diaspora participation. It is divided into two different programs, including:
- Honorary Envoys
- Balik Bayani Ako
Through the Ugnayan program, the CFO intends to offer a support system and strengthen the entrepreneurial, investment, and social remittance activities of Filipino communities in cooperation with various government and non–government agencies. It also helps newly arrived migrants adjust and settle abroad, away from their home and their families, by helping them connect with social networks, support groups, post-arrival service providers, counterpart officers from the host countries, Filipino communities, migrant serving institutions, and Philippine embassies and consulates.
Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas
The Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas is yet another CFO initiative established in December 1991 by virtue of the Executive Order No. 498. It features a biennial award given to distinguished Filipino individuals and organizations for either their noteworthy contributions to national development efforts or their outstanding achievements in their field of profession.
As the agency in charge, the CFO administers and manages the awards. The awards are given to foreign persons and organizations for their help to the country or to the advancement of the causes of Filipino communities abroad.
More information is available on the Presidential Awards website accessible via this link: http://presidentialawards.cfo.gov.ph/.
Philippine Schools Overseas (PSO)
The CFO also established the Philippine Schools Overseas (PSOs)—duly-registered educational institutions operating outside the Philippines and implementing the basic education curriculum of the Department of Education (DepEd). These institutions are established to address the educational needs of children of Filipinos overseas, facilitate their reintegration into the Philippine educational system, and provide a venue for the teaching and propagation of Filipino culture and heritage among Filipino youth abroad.
The program also established the Inter-Agency Committee on Philippine Schools Overseas (IACPSO) with five (5) member-agencies through Executive Order No. 252 to serve as the policy-making body and forum for discussion. It also established 41 PSOs operating in 10 countries with an estimated 33,000 students currently enrolled in pre-elementary, elementary, and high school levels.
More information is available on the PSO website accessible via this link: http://www.cfo-pso.org.ph/.
YouLead (Youth Leaders in Diaspora)
The CFO also created YouLeaD (formerly known as Lakbay-Aral)—a portal established in 1983 that allows Filipino youth overseas to rediscover their roots and history. The program produces modules that blend lectures and guided tours, as well as relevant information on local customs and traditions meant to instill the understanding of the depth of being a Filipino.
Participants from France, Spain, Switzerland, the Middle East, China, and the United States have participated in the improved YouLeaD, which has produced new modules such as Tracing the Philippine Roots, Eco-Tourism, Arts and Culture, and Rest and Recreation for Wellness.
More information is available on the YouLead website: https://youlead.cfo.gov.ph/
Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (LINKAPIL) or Link for Philippine Development
LINKAPIL or Lingkod sa Kapwa Pilipino (Link for Philippine Development) is a CFO-designed-and-established program that offers a system for Overseas Filipinos (OFs) to transfer various resources to support small-scale, high-impact projects.
The program has established a system that taps into the following areas of development assistance: p
- Offer scholarships, educational supplies, and classrooms to help contribute to the education of Filipino kids;
- Create and fund income-generating activities of marginalized groups or natural disaster victims;
- Promote growth by construction of minor infrastructure projects like water wells, latrines, and dwellings; and
- Assist in the development of healthy communities through feeding programs, medical missions, and distribution of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment.
For more information, you may also check the LINKAPIL website: http://www.cfo-linkapil.org.ph/new/.
BaLinkBayan: Overseas Filipinos’ One Stop Online Portal for Diaspora Engagement
BaLinkBayan is a CFO program that aims to connect overseas Filipinos (OFs) to social and economic development projects in the Philippines and its many locales, 24/7 via the creation of a one-stop online gateway for diaspora involvement. Through this program, CFOs create opportunities to forge partnerships between OFs and national and local governments to launch businesses, donation and volunteering efforts, and access online government services.
More information is available via the BaLinkBayan website accessible via this link: http://www.balinkbayan.gov.ph/.
Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking—Advocacy and Communications Committee (IACAT—ADVOCOM)
The Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking—Advocacy and Communications Committee (IACAT—ADVOCOM) is a program meant to engage and mobilize various stakeholders and target groups including national and local government agencies, civil society organizations, media institutions, international organizations, foreign government agencies, migrant associations, and other non-government organizations to do the following:
- Implement a comprehensive advocacy and communication strategy to help abolish incidents of human trafficking and promote government services;
- Develop multimedia campaigns and publish materials to raise awareness about human trafficking issues and concerns while promoting services meant for trafficking victims;
- Conduct training for specific audiences to encourage participation in anti-trafficking campaigns; and
- Implement initiatives to increase anti-trafficking advocacy and improve the visibility of the IACAT and the ADVOCOM.
Community Education Program (CEP)
The Community Education Program (CEP) is a communication campaign coordinated by CFO along with different government agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local government units (LGUs), and academic institutions. It was meant to reach out to potential migrants to help them decide about working or permanently residing in another country. Through the CEP, the CFO hopes to raise public awareness and community involvement in issues related to migration, cross-cultural relationships and inter-marriages, illegal recruitment, human trafficking, and the mail-order spouse scheme, as well as existing government policies and programs.
PESO Sense or the Philippine Financial Freedom Campaign
PESO Sense is a CFO project designed to reach out to Filipinos overseas and improve financial literacy and encourage financial freedom using new technologies and online lessons. Through this program, the CFO intends to reach out to all Filipinos, whether they are remittance senders or recipients, including students, young adults, business owners, employed, homemakers, and retirees and offer free online training modules tailored to the specific needs of the remittance recipients.
To access the PESO Sense modules, you may visit the PESO Sense website via the link: http://pesosense.com.
Migration Advocacy and Media (MAM) Awards
The Migration Advocacy and Media (MAM) Awards is a program meant to honor the positive and significant contributions of government and private media outlets, institutions, and practitioners in the fields of print, radio, movie and television, advertising, and the Internet to raise public awareness on Filipino migration issues. The recognition is meant for contributions made towards issues related to human trafficking, illegal recruitment, brain drain and brain circulation, remittance flows, political crisis, and families left behind in the Philippines and overseas.
Month of Overseas Filipinos
The Month of Overseas Filipinos is a program meant to celebrate the OFWs contributions. It is a month-long celebration chaired by the Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW, an umbrella organization of migrant civil society organizations) and co-chaired by the CFO. The celebrations feature numerous major events which vary depending on the current theme of the year.
To learn more about the Month of Overseas Filipinos website, you may visit the link: http://mof.cfo.gov.ph/
Legal Assistance and Counseling Program
CFO’s Legal Assistance and Counseling are offered under these two different programs:
- Itanong mo kay Ato!
Itanong mo kay Ato! is the CFO’s version of an accessible and convenient online legal consulting service for Filipinos, especially those who can’t afford legal advice. It was established in collaboration with the Arellano Law Foundation to help address issues on human trafficking, illegal recruiting, and mail-order spouse schemes, among other things.
Itanong Mo Kay Ato! is an initiative meant to provide direct online legal advice and a way to strengthen the battle against human trafficking.
For more information on Itanong Mo Kay Ato!, you may visit the Itanong Mo Kay Ato! website at: https://onlinelegalcounseling.1343actionline.ph/
- CFO-SIS: Itanong mo kay SIS!
Itanong Mo Kay SIS is yet another CFO initiative available online. CFO—Sa Iyong Sulok (or CFO-SIS)! is a free web- and mobile-based consulting, coaching, and counseling service for Filipinos living overseas. It was established with the help of partner counseling specialists, licensed counselors, and life coaches from various fields who offer private and confidential advice and counseling services 24/7 via the Internet and mobile messaging services (Viber, Facebook, and WhatsApp).
To learn more, visit the CFO-SIS (Sa Iyong Sulok): Itanong mo kay SIS! website at: https://sis.cfo.gov.ph/
Overseas Filipino Centenarian Awards and Incentives
This program is also known as the Centenarians Act of 2016. It was established by virtue of Republic Act 10868 (An Act Honoring and Granting Additional Benefits and Privileges to Filipino Centenarians, and For Other Purposes) in an effort to honor and grant additional benefits and privileges to Filipino centenarians.
Under the program, all Filipino centenarians, regardless of whether they live in the Philippines or abroad, will receive Php100,000.00, centenarian gifts, and a Letter of Felicitation from the president complimenting them on their longevity. The program also designated the first Sunday of October as the National Respect for Centenarians Day—a part of the annual Elderly Filipino Week, which runs from October 1 to 7.
Other services offered by the commission include online services and registration system like:
- CFO Online Registration System (OF-CORS)
- Guidance and Counseling Program (GCP)
- Pre Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS)
- J1 / Exchange Visitor Program (EVP) PDOS
- AU Pair CFS
- Re-Issuance, Revalidation and Amendment with GCP
- Registration for previously attended counselees
- Replacement of Lost Counseling Certificate
- Amendment of CFO Guidance and Counseling Certificate
- Revalidation of CFO Emigrant Registration Sticker
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most common questions and answers about CFO Philippines:
1. What is CFO?
CFO stands for the Commission on Filipinos Overseas—a Philippine government agency under the Office of the President established to promote and protect the interests, rights, and welfare of Filipinos who are living overseas while also strengthening their ties to overseas worker communities and to their homeland.
2. What are the benefits of the CFO?
The CFO also offers benefits including technology transfer, as well as material and financial contributions from outside the Philippines. It was established to promote development initiatives in underserved communities while allowing newer generations of overseas Filipinos (OFs) to learn about Philippine history and culture.
3. Does the CFO office assist OFWs?
Yes. The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) offers assistance of various forms to OFWs and overseas Filipinos (OFs) who are “permanent residents” (PR) or dual citizens in other countries.
4. How much do I need to pay to attend a CFO counseling/seminar?
Attending a CFO counseling seminar costs at least PhP400.00 so you will need to prepare at least that much.
5. What is the purpose of the CFO registration sticker?
A CFO registration sticker is meant for J1 Visa holders who successfully completed the registration procedures and attended the pre-departure orientation course for EVP participants. The CFO Registration Sticker will be inspected by the Bureau of Immigration officer on the day of the departure.
6. Does the CFO certificate have an expiration date?
No. The CFO certificate does not expire or has no expiration date. After obtaining the K1 or immigrant visa package, the individual will need to return to the CFO office to have an emigrant sticker placed on one of the Philippine passport pages.
7. How long does it take to get a CFO sticker?
It varies. If the applicant is a resident in the National Capital Region (NCR), then they can expect it to arrive in 3-5 days. For residents who are in the provinces, it may take up to 3-7 days for the CFO sticker to reach them.
The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) is a government agency designed to promote and protect the interests and well-being of overseas Filipinos (OFs)—whether Filipino immigrants or permanent residents abroad—and their families. The agency is also tasked with policy development as well as initiatives that improve the ties between the OFs and the Filipino communities with their homeland.
Like the other government agencies in the Philippines, the CFO also has programs and projects which helps them carry out their mandate. Most of CFO’s programs offer assistance in the form of training, consultation, advice, and information or educational programs which helps establish a community of well-respected and competitive Filipinos overseas.
In case you have other concerns that this guide did not address, feel free to reach out to the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) via the following contact information:
Commision on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Main Office
Office Address: Citigold Center, 1345 Quirino Ave, Paco, Manila, 1007 Metro Manila
Telephone Number: (02) 8552 4700
Fax No.: (02) 8561-8332
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CFOGovPH
Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday, 7:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Except Holidays)