At the 23rd ALMM
Baldoz expresses support to ILO initiative on labor migration database for ASEAN

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has highlighted Philippine labor market reforms and called for better migrant workers’ protection at the 23rd ASEAN Labor Ministers’ Meeting held in at Myanmar last week on the theme, “Enhancing Competitive Labor Force for Harmonious, Progressive, and Prosperous Workplace”.

At the same time, Baldoz also expressed support to the initiative of the International Labor Organization for the development of a Labor Migration Statistics Database for ASEAN, a crucial requisite for the shared goal of migrant worker protection and effective and efficient migration management.

In her statement before the ALMM, Baldoz said:

“As ASEAN moves closer to integration that promises to build a strong regional economy founded on seamless labor mobility, small and medium enterprise productivity, and free flow of goods, capital, and services, the Philippines continues to adopt labor market reforms to sustain a job-led high economic growth, but faces the biggest challenge on how to translate this growth to job-rich development.”

“To address this challenge, we have adopted reforms that include, among others, measures to address skills and knowledge gaps especially among the youth in our labor force. We are developing, with the support of the Asian Development Bank, Jobstart Philippines, that can shorten school-to-work transition, in addition to our Training for Work Scholarship Program (TWSP). We provide income support for the education of poor but deserving youth through the Special Program for the Employment of Students (SPES). We continue to enhance the skills and competencies of our workers to meet the requirements of local and global markets. We distribute timely and relevant labor market information through our network of Public Employment Service Offices and guidance counselors nationwide, operate an electronic job and skills matching and referral facility, and conduct career advocacy, coaching and counseling,” she added.

According to Baldoz, the Philippine government has strongly pursued a national agenda of inclusive growth through employment generation and poverty reduction, stating that workers and employers and their organizations contribute to the attainment of inclusive growth through a tripartite-indorsed and sectoral labor and employment plan that promotes competitiveness of Filipino workers and enterprises through the promotion of decent work and efficiency of the country’s labor market.

“The plan underscores the Philippine government’s policy of investing in its greatest resource—our human resource—to make it more competitive and employable in both the domestic and global labor markets. It also fosters a climate conducive to investments by promoting sustainable industrial peace based on social justice,” she said.

She expressed gratitude to the guidance provided by the Senior Labor Officials’ Meeting  (SLOM) to the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW) and its Drafting Team (DT) towards the completion of the ASEAN instrument in terms of the fulfillment of the phased approach timeline.

This means the finalization of the Instrument by the end of 2014; resolution of specific pending issues by the ACMW-DT; and instruction given by the SLOM to the ASEAN Secretariat that would facilitate discussion of principal pending issues on migrant workers’ families, undocumented workers, and the binding force of the Instrument.
“The finalization of the Instrument will mark a major milestone in regional cooperation and community building,” Baldoz said.

The Philippines, Baldoz said, has adopted an Enhanced Social Protection Framework and Strategy consistent with the ASEAN Declaration on Strengthening Social Protection.

“With ILO’s assistance, we are now preparing an Assessment Based National Dialogue (ABND) towards the crafting of a nationally-defined social protection floor that seeks to address risks and vulnerabilities in various forms including those associated with economic integration,” she said.

In her statement, Baldoz cited the country’s initiatives in promoting decent work and competitive enterprises. On the area of occupational safety and health, for example, she said the Philippines, as the secretariat of the ASEAN-OSHNET from 2012-2014 together with ASEAN member states, has actively contributed toward raising the profile of OSH in the region by developing a scorecard and supporting a first regional OSH conference.

On HIV, the labor and employment chief said that in line with the approval of the Terms of Reference for the establishment of the ASEAN Business Coalition on AIDS (BCA), the Philippines is currently developing its national BCA to lead the business sector’s response on the prevention and control of HIV and AIDS in the workplace.

“We continue to share our experiences and best practices by hosting seminars and conferences including the Labor Inspection Conference in ASEAN this July 2014, along with the hosting of the 11th SLOM in 2015,” Baldoz announced.

Finally, Baldoz in her statement expressed gratitude to all ASEAN Member States for coming to the aid of the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan.

“We have never felt compassion and support from friends as sincere and intense. Because of your expression of solidarity, survivors, many of whom are workers, are now on the long and difficult, but sure, path to recovery,” she said.

Baldoz attended the 23rd ALMM together with Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad.

END/rhev

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