Opening address at the National Anti-Illegal Recruitment Summit
By Mr Khalid Hassan, Director, ILO Country Office for the Philippines at the National Anti-Illegal Recruitment Summit of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in the Philippines, Manila, Philippines, 9 June 2017
- Our partners from the government, workers and employers organizations,
- Representatives from the diplomatic corps,
- Distinguished guests and partners from civil society organizations, recruitment agencies and the media,
- Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to all of you!
The ILO has been working with the government of the Philippines together with employers’ and workers’ organizations to protect the rights of migrant workers and to ensure fair recruitment.
This Summit provides a platform for government agencies to converge and to forge an agreement for enhanced coordination and policy coherence, as well as access to database aimed at addressing illegal recruitment.
Through the years, more Filipinos are in search of better opportunities abroad, which also led to an increase of private recruitment agencies. Recruitment agencies are classified as either land based or sea-based (or manning agencies).
All recruitment agencies regardless of the country of destination or the type of workers they deploy, are required to hold the relevant operating licenses obtained through the POEA.
However, despite the strict licensing rules and regulations imposed, there are still unlicensed recruiters who operate outside the rules of the POEA. These illegal recruiters take advantage of Filipinos who seek jobs abroad, and who are willing to pay fees in order to secure employment overseas.
The ILO congratulates the POEA for its initiative to address illegal recruitment through the National Illegal Recruitment Monitoring System; the Online Trafficking-in-Persons Blacklist Database; the Illegal Recruitment and Trafficking-in-Persons Priority Target List; and the Online Complaint and Legal Counselling Facility.
The Philippines has ratified ILO Conventions to ensure a rights-based approach on labour migration and decent work for domestic workers, including the UN convention on migrant workers and family members.
The Philippines this year serves as the chair of ASEAN. There are a number of opportunities to seize in terms of protecting and promoting the rights of Filipino migrant workers.
President Duterte has also placed stronger protection of the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers as part of the government’s priority.
To foster fair recruitment, the ILO Director-General launched ILO’s Fair Hiring Initiative in 2014, through the global Fair Recruitment programme, involving the government, employers’ and workers’ organizations, and other key partners.
An important pillar of the Fair Recruitment Initiative is to advance and share information and knowledge on policies, laws, emerging practices and challenges related to the recruitment of Filipino migrant workers across migration corridors. This initiative will support the government’s efforts to address illegal recruitment issues by enhancing access to reliable information and services.
Aligning with global targets, the anti-illegal recruitment campaign of the Philippine government further contributes to the Sustainable Development Goal 4, particularly target 8.7 to end forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour.
Likewise, target 10.7 of Sustainable Development Goals, which explicitly called for the drive to bring down the costs of recruitment and promote employer-pays models as it recognizes the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development, is linked to the ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative.
The Fair project, through its continuous discussions with our Filipino constituents has identified key strategies to foster fair recruitment practices, prevent illegal recruitment and human trafficking, and reduce the costs of labour migration. These strategies will be implemented in close coordination with our social partners to achieve best results with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
New approaches are needed to also address the complexity of labour migration and to ensure fair recruitment globally. This year’s, International Labour Conference, which is ongoing in Geneva, includes multi-sector discussions on labour migration governance and fair recruitment. It draws on relevant examples and experiences of countries, including the Philippines.
The discussion is expected to make a major contribution to the global debate on migration and a possible new Global Compact of the United Nations on migration. This will help promote migration as a choice and will contribute to the objective of migrant workers having access to safe and fair migration options.
Addressing illegal recruitment is a crucial step, while workers are still in their home country. Initiatives of the POEA launched today, will benefit not only the recruitment industry, but also Filipino migrant workers.