Opening address at the national preparatory meeting for the 6th ASEAN forum on migrant labour

By Mr Lawrence Jeff Johnson, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the national preparatory meeting for the 6th ASEAN forum on migrant labour, Manila, Philippines, 6 September 2013

Statement | Manila City, Philippines | 06 September 2013
  • Secretary Baldoz and officials of the Department of Labor and Employment,
  • Administrator Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration,
  • Our partners from government, employers’ and workers’ organizations,
  • Officials representing migrant workers and civil society organizations,
  • Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
  • magandang umaga sa inyong lahat (good morning to all of you)!

It is an honour to join you today for the opening of the Preparatory Meeting for the 6th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour.

On behalf of the ILO, I would like to warmly welcome all participants to the seminar.

In 2010, the ILO has estimated over 105 million migrant workers. Of these, about 30 million are in Asia.

The directions of labour migration flows in the ASEAN are mainly three-fold: from South East Asia to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries; to and within the ASEAN region; to East Asia which is mainly from countries in South-East Asia.

In a number of ASEAN member States, there are more women than men in labour migration, but mostly in unskilled and vulnerable forms of employment.

The growth of migration in the region is accompanied by several challenges. These include irregular migration, resulting to security and vulnerability problems; recruitment abuses that lead to indebtedness among migrant workers; exploitation of those excluded from labour protection laws; and other social costs, such as “brain drain”, breakdown of family relationships, and overdependence on remittances.

The ASEAN community has recognized the importance of labour migration in the region.

It is included in two of the three ASEAN Blueprints:
  • The Economic Community Blueprint calls for the free flow of skilled labour
  • The Socio-Cultural Communities blueprint provides for the protection and promotion of the rights of migrant workers including women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities

In 2007, heads of States of the ten-member ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers during the ASEAN Summit held in Cebu, Philippines.

Recommendations to advance the implementation of the principles of the ASEAN Declaration on Migrant Workers are developed during the annual ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour (AFML).

The AFML is participated by the member states, workers’ and employers’ organizations and civil society organizations.

It is an open platform to review, discuss and exchange good practices and ideas on key migration issues.
The dialogue involves governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations, and civil society stakeholders.

The Forum further provides:
  1. an opportunity to discuss stakeholder activities on implementing recommendations from past forums; and
  2. the experience of developing the draft ASEAN Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers.

ASEAN member States have made progress and they are undertaking new initiatives in implementing recommendations from the AFML. Updates will be presented and discussed in detail later today.

The Canadian Government (CIDA) funded ASEAN TRIANGLE project, in cooperation with DOLE, supports today’s workshop to prepare for the 6th AFML which will be held in November this year, and hosted by the Government of Brunei Darussalam.

Today’s preparatory meeting will take into account progress and implementation of previous recommendations and will discuss the 6th AFML proposed themes as part of gathering recommendations from the Philippines.

President Aquino in his inaugural speech pointed out that migration should be an informed choice.

Migration and development were included in 7 out of 9 chapters of the Philippine Development Plan and the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan, centred on achieving inclusive and sustained growth through decent and productive work.

Ultimately, the goal of this national preparatory meeting is clear and simple - the dialogue is about decent and productive work through better regional and national cooperation.

Your voice matters and I look forward to your active participation.

Indeed, each of you has a role to play towards better management of labour migration in the ASEAN.

I wish you a productive and successful discussion.

Thank you and Mabuhay!