RP no longer UN’s model-country in OFW protection

04/27/2009 | 04:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers has stricken out the Philippines as model state for its failure to fulfill customary duties under the UN standards, migrants group based in Europe has said.

Grace Punongbayan of Migrante Europe chapter said the Philippines was deleted as a model state at the meeting of the Steering Committee for the Campaign For Ratification of the Migrants Rights Convention presided by Ms. Carla Edelenbos, secretary of the Committee on Migrant Workers, at the UN headquarters in Geneva last April 8.

The document being referred to, where the Philippines was deleted as a “positive case study of state ratification and implementation” is the “Guide on Ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and members of Their Families.

The steering committee approved the deletion after Rev. Cesar Taguba of the Ecumenical Ministry for Filipinos Abroad and Migrante-Europe cited several instances wherein the Philippine government failed to meet its obligations under the Convention.

Present during the meeting, among others, were representatives from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labor Organization (ILO), International Catholic Migration Commission, and the World Council of Churches.

Meanwhile, Migrante International, at the opening of the 10th session of the United Nations Committee on Migrant Workers held April 20 in Switzerland, called attention to the violations by the Philippine government of the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and its non-compliance with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (UNCPMWMTF).

Among the countries under review by the UN steering committee were Azerbaijan, Colombia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Punongbayan, together with a representative of Migrante Switzerland, both member organizations of Migrante International, gave oral interventions in behalf of the Manila-based international alliance.

Migrante International earlier submitted a written report before the start of the 10th session to the Committee that was distributed to the members of the Commission and posted on the website of the UNCMW.

In the report, the group noted that in 2005, the deployment of documented OFWs breached the one million mark. It said the average number of workers sent abroad daily was 3,000 making the Philippines top-three among migrant-sending countries.

“Approximately a tenth of the population live and work in 194 countries and territories around the world, with concentrations in North America, Middle East, Asia-Pacific and Europe. This migration which started by waves in the course of Philippine history has become an almost daily phenomenon since the government initiated its labor export program (LEP) in the 1970s. What was initially meant as a temporary measure to address the country’s unemployment problem has become a regular fixture, massive and systematic in scope, and bruited about as a tool for national development,” Migrante International said in a statement.

Remittances from migrants have kept the Philippine economy continuously afloat. From $659 million in 1984 remitted OFW money hit a staggering $16 billion by the end of 2008.

“These remittances were earned at tremendous costs to Filipino migrants and their families who had to endure long years of separation and suffer from various forms of exploitation, abuse, discrimination, violence and terrorism,” Migrante said.

During the question and answer portion of the UN committee discussion, Punongbayan stressed that despite the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 8042 and the ratification by the Philippine government of the UNCPMWMTF, the government on many occasions violated the rights of OFWs and is guilty of non-compliance with the provisions of the said convention of which the country is a signatory. – GMANews.TV



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