Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz has reconstituted the Department of Labor and Employment’s Committee on International Trade Agreements, taking into account the implementation of the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP) and the Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) in multilateral, regional, and bilateral free trade agreements (FTA) entered into by the Philippines.
The committee serves as the central clearing house and integration of all Department concerns in relation to existing, on-going, and future international free trade agreements, and was created by virtue of Administrative Order No. 388 S. 2011.
In Administrative Order No. 343 S. 2015 and issued on 15 August 2015, Baldoz said the reconstitution of the Committee aims to achieve coherence in policies relative to the DOLE’s mandate on MNP and MRA in multilateral, regional, and bilateral FTAs enters into by the country.
The MNP is an Association of Southeast Asian’s Nations’ (ASEAN) agreement that allows the temporary entry of skilled workers, professionals, and executives to ASEAN-member countries as business visitors, intra-corporate transferees, and contractual service suppliers.
The MRA, on the other hand, is an arrangement among ASEAN member countries designed to facilitate the freer movement and employment of qualified and certified professionals between ASEAN member-countries.
The International Trade Agreements committee is chaired by the Undersecretary for Labor Relations, Social Dialogue, and Internal Affairs Cluster and co-chaired by the Undersecretary for Employability of Workers and Competitiveness of Enterprises Cluster. The committee members are the Chairperson of the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Director-General of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration POEA), the Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Director of the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), the Director of the International Labor Affairs Bureau (DOLE), the Director of Legal Service, and the Executive Director of the Institute for Labor Studies (ILS).
“We have defined the roles and responsibilities of the committee members to better address the increasing focus and preparation of our country, specifically in the labor front, in the ASEAN integration. We are concerned here because the free movement of capital, goods, services, investment and skilled labor will be a central activity in the ASEAN Economic Community,” said Baldoz.
The DOLE chief said the PRC has been tasked to take the lead on Trade and Services, particularly on MRAs for professionals. “We want to ensure a system of developing professionals whose personal integrity and spiritual values are solid and respected nationally and internationally, and whose competencies are globally competitive. To this end, we want Filipino professionals to be recognized in countries that are parties to FTAs with the Philippines,” the Secretary added.
The TESDA will take charge of MRAs for technical skills to provide appropriate directions and positions on matters relating to technical education and skills development toward developing a Filipino workforce with world-class competence.
“Our goal is to enable our Filipino workers’ technical skills and qualifications be duly recognized in countries that are parties to FTAs with the Philippines.
The POEA, together with ILAB, shall take the lead on MNP. It will particularly develop plans and operational standards and monitor the parties’ observance and implementation of their commitments relative to international labor and employment concerns, including core labor standards.
In addition, the ILAB shall utilize the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in conducting labor market intelligence in countries that are parties to FTAs with the Philippines.
The ILS shall conduct employment projections of sectors covered by international trade agreements to aid national trade positions and policies on labor and employment.
The BLE shall prepare discussion papers on the implications of international trade agreements to local employment which shall form part of the labor market signalling system of the country.
Inputs relevant to the promotion and protection of the welfare and interest of overseas Filipino workers, such as employment conditions in countries parties to FTAs with the Philippines, among others, will be handled by the OWWA.
The provision of legal opinion, implications, and review of the agreements will be done by the Legal Service.