Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis Baldoz yesterday urged the senior labor officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) to extend needed protection to migrant workers, especially those who became undocumented not because of their fault, and thus become victims of exploitation, abuse, and violence.
In her message to the 11th Senior Labor Officials Meeting (SLOM) read by Undersecretary Reydeluz Conferido, Secretary Baldoz invoked in her call the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
“As stipulated in the ASEAN Declaration, receiving states and the sending states shall, for humanitarian reasons, closely cooperate to resolve the cases of migrant workers who, through no fault of their own, have subsequently become undocumented,” Baldoz said.
The labor and employment chief’s message also emphasized the upholding of the fundamental rights and dignity of migrant workers and family members already residing with them, without undermining the application by the receiving states of their laws, regulations, and policies.
Baldoz also emphasized the obligation of receiving states to “provide migrant workers, who may be victims of discrimination, abuse, exploitation, or violence, with adequate access to the legal and judicial systems of the receiving states.”
She said that with the establishment of the ASEAN community, mobility will be inevitable in the ASEAN member-countries’ shared borders, with a 14-day visa-free entry privilege among our citizens, and with a single market and production base.
“There may be an inescapable reality expected in the integrated economic community, and this is an increase in intra-ASEAN migration—both through documented, partly documented, and undocumented channels. ASEAN authorities need to have practical procedures and protocols for dealing with the reality of migrants who have become undocumented through no fault of their own,” Baldoz added.
Urging the SLOM to ‘build on past accomplishments’, Baldoz recalled the groundwork established during the 26th ASEAN Summit last April in Kuala Lumpur where ASEAN leaders recognized the contribution of migrant workers to both the ASEAN society and economy, and further reminding the task given to the ASEAN Labor Ministers to continue working on the finalization of an ASEAN Instrument in the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.
She observed that a purely legalistic response from respective ASEAN counties may not offer effective solutions to migration problems, saying there should be a coordinating mechanism that will enable various government agencies to discharge their respective roles in the concerted pursuit for justice.
The Philippines, through the Department of Labor and Employment, hosts this year’s biennial SLOM.
Department of Labor and Employment Undersecretary Conferido, who led the Philippine Delegation in the meeting, commended the SLOM members for their continuing efforts in helping fast-track and monitor the programs of ASEAN Labor Ministers Meeting (ALMM).
Senior labor officials from ASEAN member states, Japan, Korea, and China, including the officials of the ASEAN Secretariat, International Labor Organization, and International Organization for Migration, is in Manila for the 4-7 SLOM to tackle ASEAN Community Vision 2025, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint, the ASEAN Labor Ministers’ Work Program 2016-2020, including the workplans for SLOM, ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers, and the ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network, and the ASEAN human resources competitiveness. The SLOM will also discuss cooperation initiatives with the ILO, and increased mobility of skilled labor agenda with the IOM.
Usec. Conferido underscored the SLOM’s vital support of the ASEAN member states in pushing for the development of employment generation, labour market monitoring, labour mobility, social protection, tripartite cooperation, and occupational safety and health.
“We look forward to a more strengthened ASEAN inter-governmental cooperation as China, Korea, and Japan, join the SLOM, thus, the SLOM + 3 takes place on the third day of the meeting,” Conferido added.
The Senior Labor Officials Meeting (SLOM), along with the ASEAN Committee on the Implementation of the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, forms part of the ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM), and constitutes the larger Sectorial Ministerial Bodies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation or the ASEAN.
The ASEAN Labour Ministers Meeting (ALMM) is held every two years. Under the ALMM is the Senior Labour Officials Meeting (SLOM) which monitors the progress of implementation of the ALM Programme.