PHL pursuing more protection for overseas workers, Ople tells UN-led dialogue 

THE PHILIPPINE government will seek more labor agreements with different countries to combat illegal recruitment and trafficking as well as enhance the protection of Filipino overseas workers, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) head said on Monday.  

“We are pushing for reforms to include incentives for fair and ethical recruitment, country-specific standard employment contracts, more bilateral labor agreements and zero tolerance for graft and corruption,” DMW Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople said during the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Colombo Process dialogue held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Manila.  

“If our migrant workers leave unprepared, unaware of their rights, how life-changing a decision it is to work abroad, then the probability of landing in unsafe, least protected environments becomes sky-high,” she said in her speech, a copy which was sent to reporters.  

The Colombo Process is a regional consultative discussion on migrant workers’ issues. The dialogue was attended by labor and migrant workers experts from the Philippines, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand and India, among other countries.  

The IOM is a United Nations (UN) agency that provides services and advice on migration to governments, migrants and refugees, according to the organization’s website.  

Ms. Ople said President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. ordered her agency to bolster its awareness campaign against illegal recruitment, especially schemes conducted through social media.  

The president on Monday ordered the country’s anti-trafficking inter-agency council and a presidential commission to harmonize efforts against human trafficking, which he said could compromise the country’s economy and national security.  

Ms. Ople said the government will uphold the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families, which requires countries to have ethical recruitment standards.  

The DMW has said it is working closely with the Department of Justice to strengthen the monitoring and action against human trafficking activities in the Asia-Pacific region.   

“We continue to maintain a tight watch on the online illegal recruitment and trafficking of our workers to those places, especially in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos,” the migrant workers secretary said in January.  

Ms. Ople has said DMW will use its P15.8-billion budget to establish 16 regional offices and to hire 1,000 new workers this year to make their services more accessible nationwide.   

“Under my leadership, the DMW aims to be inclusive and protective, to shine the spotlight on the heroism and excellence of the Filipino worker, wherever he or she may be in the world, and to give life to a rights-based approach to labor migration and migration governance,” she said. John Victor D. Ordoñez