IT’S commendable that the leaders of the member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have gotten their priorities straight in the 31st ASEAN Summit which concluded Tuesday night.
The summit discussed at least four urgent concerns in the region, namely, the South China Sea dispute, terrorism, drugs and something about the welfare of migrant workers.
I supposed these are not new, but old and chronic problems. What we need is a new, determined, coordinated – and ‘non-ningas cogon’ attitude on the part of those who will execute them, in this case, our distinguished, and no-nonsense ASEAN leaders.
However, hat’s off to the ASEAN leaders for sparing their precious time tackling the welfare of the migrant workers in a discussion that led to the signing of the landmark agreement on the protection of the migrant workers.
Definitely, the Philippines stands to benefit much from this agreement for obvious reasons.
What should catch one’s attention in the agreement, called the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers, are the provisions that allow laborers to join unions, and prohibiting employers from confiscating their workers’ passports.
There are also provisions upholding ‘fair treatment of migrant workers with respect to gender and nationality, providing for visitation rights by family members, ensuring the protection of their right to access information pertaining to their employment and employment-related conditions, and respecting their right to fair and appropriate remuneration and benefits,’ among others.
Needless to say, these provisions are like music not just to thousands of Filipinos working in any of the ASEAN member states, but also to the whole labor force in the region.
And whether our labourers will get to see those provisions followed to the letter is a matter that should be weighed in since the implementation of the ASEAN Consensus, the Department of Foreign Affairs has cautioned, will be subject to the respective laws of the ASEAN Member States.
Let us just hope that our neighbour countries will live true to that agreement, which, in the words of President Duterte ‘would strengthen social protection, access to justice, humane and fair treatment, and access to health services’
The DFA hailed it as the “centerpiece” of the Philippine’s ASEAN chairmanship.