Opening address at the regional training on strengthening labour migration programmes and services in Western Visayas

By Ms Ma. Concepcion Sardaña, Senior Programme Officer, delivered on behalf of Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the regional training on strengthening labour migration programmes and services in Western Visayas, 27 February 2023, Iloilo City, Philippines

Statement | Iloilo City, Philippines | 27 February 2023
  • Director Arecio Casing Jr. of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA);
  • Atty. Michael Joseph Escañer of the Department of Migrant Workers-Iloilo;
  • Members of the Sub-Committee on International Migration and Development for Western Visayas;
  • Members of the Migrants Coordinating Group in Western Visayas
  • Ms Ellene Sana, Executive Director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy;
  • Participants from the Public Employment Services Offices (PESO), Migrant Resource Centers, and OFW helpdesks in the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo Province and City and Negros Occidental;
  • Colleagues from IOM and ILO;
  • Ladies and gentlemen, maayong aga (Good morning)!
Welcome to this regional training!

Let me begin by thanking the Western Visayas Sub-Committee on International Migration and Development (SC-IMD) and the Migrants Coordinating Group (MCG) for their partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to protect migrant workers and to strengthen labour migration services, including reintegration.

The ILO, a specialized agency of the United Nations promotes a gender-inclusive, rights-based labour migration. This is an integral part of ILO’s support for the country in line with the Decent Work Country Programme and the Sustainable Development Goals.

As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice is vital to achieve a human-centred recovery based on the ILO’s Global Call to Action.

Through local Migrant Resource Centers and OFW Helpdesks the ILO currently supports, fair and ethical recruitment and gender-responsive reintegration via the Safe and Fair and BRIDGE Programme.

The “OFW Reintegration Advisor and Referral Pathways” is also being developed as a reintegration framework and tool. Strengthening migration coordination mechanisms, such as the SC-IMD, is also among our priorities to implement of migration policies and plans, the migration agenda coherently.

We believe that local migration service providers play a critical role in fostering safe and fair migration. Thus, they must be well-versed in labour migration standards, frameworks, concepts, issues, and good practices.

Together with partners, the SC-IMD in Western Visayas, has mainstreamed and institutionalized the roles of Local Government Units and local duty bearers in delivering programmes and services for OFWs and their families through migration & development (M&D) bodies, as well as mechanisms such as the OFW helpdesks and Migrant Resource Centers.

We are pleased to note that as a result of ILO’s collaboration with the SC-IMD, the Regional Development Council signed Resolution No. 66 Series of 2021, which supports the strengthening and establishment of OFW helpdesks and MRCs in LGUs.

The Resolution also fosters technical assistance to LGUs on migration governance to match local migration plans with regional priorities. ILO is glad to support the implementation of this regional policy.

The ILO has also produced the Toolbox on Safe and Fair Migration for the training of migration actors, including PESO, MRC and OFW helpdesks. Some of you may recall participating in the development of this toolbox in 2021.

However, further revisions were put on hold in 2021 due to COVID, and in 2022 with the reorganization of the Philippine migration governance with the creation of the new Department of Migrant Workers (DMW).

Through this regional training, we are resuming the piloting of the Toolbox to update and incorporate new developments and context, including the role of DMW and corresponding changes in other migration-related agencies.

Given the recent changes in the national and local leadership after the 2022 elections, and the Mandanas-Garcia ruling, which increases the LGUs budget and the responsibilities in delivering migration and local services, this initiative is also very timely.

This three-day regional training will focus on strengthening the capacity of local migration service providers on rights-based and gender-responsive migration programmes and services, fair recruitment, pre-migration preparation of OFWs and their families, and sustainable return and reintegration.

It will also promote the migration and development agenda and its implementation at the local level. Region 6 has consistently supported the migration and development agenda, especially by having a separate chapter in its Regional Development Plan.

The ILO Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration and ILO conventions; the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Principles; and the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) should guide the national and local migration and development agenda. The regional training will cover all these.

Finally, we count on you to help protect migrant workers, to ensure a gender-responsive and rights-based labour migration and to ensure that no one is left behind in providing local services and programmes.

As I end, let me wish you a successful training.

Damo nga salamat (Thank you very much)!