Asean lead­ers sign doc­u­ment on mi­grant work­ers’ pro­tec­tion

The Philippine Star - - NEWS | OPINION - – Pia Lee-Brago

Lead­ers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) signed yes­ter­day the Con­sen­sus on the Pro­tec­tion and Pro­mo­tion of the Rights of Mi­grant Work­ers that will give the same level of pro­tec­tion to mi­grant work­ers as mem­ber-states give to their own cit­i­zens.

The Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA) said the land­mark doc­u­ment pro­tects mi­grant work­ers in terms of la­bor con­tracts, la­bor stan­dards, ac­cess to le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion, es­pe­cially to ac­cess to con­sular rep­re­sen­ta­tion, some­thing sim­i­lar to what is en­joyed by cit­i­zens of the host coun­tries.

It es­tab­lishes a frame­work for co­op­er­a­tion in safe­guard­ing the in­ter­ests and wel­fare of the thou­sands of mi­grant work­ers in the re­gion and strength­ens so­cial pro­tec­tion as well as ac­cess to jus­tice and health ser­vices of the re­gion’s mi­grant work­ers, en­sur­ing a hu­mane and fair treat­ment.

The Con­sen­sus also up­holds fair treat­ment of mi­grant work­ers with re­spect to gen­der and na­tion­al­ity, pro­vides for visi­ta­tion rights by fam­ily mem­bers, pro­hibits con­fis­ca­tion of pass­ports and over­charg­ing of place­ment or re­cruit­ment fees, pro­tects against vi­o­lence and sex­ual ha­rass­ment in the work­place, reg­u­lates re­cruiters for bet­ter pro­tec­tion of work­ers and re­spects their right to fair and ap­pro­pri­ate re­mu­ner­a­tion and ben­e­fits and their right to join trade unions and as­so­ci­a­tions.

“This is the cen­ter­piece of our chair­man­ship. And we are ac­tu­ally quite pleased that we have come full cir­cle. We had a Dec­la­ra­tion in 2007, the first time it came about dur­ing the Philip­pine chair­man­ship, in fact,” For­eign Af­fairs spokesman Robe­spierre Bo­li­var said on the sign­ing of the doc­u­ment dur­ing the 31st ASEAN Sum­mit and Re­lated Sum­mits in Manila.

The Con­sen­sus came a decade af­ter the sign­ing of the Cebu Dec­la­ra­tion on the Pro­tec­tion and Pro­mo­tion of the Rights of Mi­grant Work­ers.

Like all ASEAN agree­ments, its im­ple­men­ta­tion will be sub­ject to the re­spec­tive laws of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s mem­ber­coun­tries.

La­bor Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello III said this agree­ment will ben­e­fit the re­gion’s mi­grant work­ers, in­clud­ing the 212,435 Filipino mi­grant work­ers in South­east Asia.

Ac­cord­ing to 2016 statis­tics from the Philip­pine Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion, a ma­jor­ity of them are em­ployed in Sin­ga­pore and Malaysia.

He added that the ASEAN Con­sen­sus strength­ens re­gional co­op­er­a­tion in pre­vent­ing abuses, ex­ploita­tion and vi­o­lence to­wards mi­grant work­ers.

“In cases where Filipino mi­grant work­ers are im­pris­oned, they will have rights no less fa­vor­able than those ap­plied to the lo­cal work­ers. They also have the right to file griev­ances with the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties in the coun­tries they are work­ing in,” Bello added.

ASEAN also signed and adopted the fol­low­ing doc­u­ments as the out­comes of the Sum­mit: Dec­la­ra­tion to Pre­vent and Com­bat Cy­ber­crime; Dec­la­ra­tion on In­no­va­tion; Ac­tion Agenda on Main­stream­ing Women’s Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment in ASEAN; Dec­la­ra­tion on Anti-Mi­cro­bial Re­sis­tance (AMR): Com­bat­ing AMR through One Health Ap­proach; Dec­la­ra­tion on Dis­as­ter Health Man­age­ment; Dec­la­ra­tion on End­ing All Forms of Mal­nu­tri­tion; Dec­la­ra­tion on the Adop­tion of the ASEAN Youth De­vel­op­ment In­dex; Dec­la­ra­tion on “Cul­ture of Pre­ven­tion for a Peace­ful, In­clu­sive, Re­silient, Healthy and Har­mo­nious So­ci­ety;” Dec­la­ra­tion on the Gen­derRe­spon­sive Im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ASEAN Com­mu­nity Vi­sion 2025 and Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals; Joint State­ment on Cli­mate Change to the 23rd Ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Par­ties to the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCCC COP-23); and the Joint State­ment on Pro­mot­ing Women, Peace and Se­cu­rity in ASEAN.

AP

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe faces a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of Asean and other sum­mits in Manila.

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