Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz announced that the Philippines had successfully presented significant inputs to the regional framework of cooperation in the Abu Dhabi Dialogue II at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila.
"I am happy to announce that the Philippine position on key issues in managing labor migration and maximizing the mutual benefits from labor mobility in the Asian region have been incorporated in the Framework on Regional Cooperation adopted at the end of the three-day Abu Dhabi Daialogue II," Baldoz said.
Among the major inputs of the Philippines to the proposed framework included (a) protection of women workers; (b) cooperation in times of emergency crisis; (c) facilitation of repatriation of nationals; and (d) regulation of cost of migration.
Baldoz said that during the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Department of Labor and Employment was able to highlight its national reintegration program on migrant women workers, the Balik Pinay, Balik Hanapbuhay Project, which assists Filipino women workers who were displaced from their overseas jobs as a result of unfortunate incidents in the Middle East, Korea, and Japan. The project is a skills training cum livelihood intervention initiative of the Philippine government which aims to improve the socio-economic well-being of returning women OFWs.
The labor chief likewise highlighted the efforts of the Philippine government in pushing for the ratification of International Labour Organization Convention 189 (C189), or the Domestic Workers’ Convention, which would greatly benefit household service workers in many parts of the globe. This particular initiative has gained enormous support from social partners, including religious groups, the academe, and civil society organizations.
The Philippine government has also exerted parallel efforts in pushing for the enactment into law of the Kasambahay Bill or Magna Carta for Domestic Workers, which Baldoz said no less than President Benigno S. Aquino III had certified as a legislative priority of the administration. The law would ensure greater protection and promotion of decent work of Filipino household workers who were often subject of abuse and exploitation by their employers.
In the area of cooperation in times of emergency crisis and safe repatriation of nationals, Baldoz said the Philippines has long established mutual agreements with some labor-receiving countries that employ OFWs, such that during times of crisis, contingency plans are readily available. The labor chief, however, said that the success of such measures depend heavily on the cooperation of counterpart authorities abroad and employers as well.
“The Libya crisis is proof that with contingency plans in place, the government will have less to worry about its migrant workers, especially if employers and principals are cooperative,” Baldoz said.
Also incorporated in the Philippine position is the inclusion of skills classification and recognition of skills that appreciate the productivity of workers; provision of clear definition and effective communication of the qualification requirements for available jobs to be filled up; adoption of a mutually acceptable standard employment contracts which prescribe minimum terms, including social insurance coverage which could benefit workers during and after-overseas employment, and when disputes arise; and observance of existing migration policies and regulations of Countries of Origin (COOs) and Countries of Destination (CODs).
“We expect this continuing process to be an open, frank, and honest dialogue as inputs from participating countries will be critical in providing concrete, practical and comprehensive measures, based on best practices, from pre-departure to admission and employment, and from preparation for return to return and reintegration of migrant workers,” Baldoz said.
The Philippines was represented in the dialogue by senior officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) led by Usec. Danny Cruz as Chairman, and Administrator Carmelita Dimzon of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Administrator Hans Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Authority (POEA), and Chairperson Teresita Manzala of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) as members.
“The Framework of Regional Collaboration of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue will further enhance cooperation between country of origin and country of destination. The framework is aimed at promoting cooperation, improving efficiency, and enhancing protections which can benefit migrant workers in Asia,” Baldoz finally said.