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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     16-18 November  2011

Philippines urges ASEAN to protect migrant workers

BALI – The Philippines on Thursday urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to adopt a legally-binding agreement on the protection of migrant workers.

Communications and Planning Secretary Ricky Carandang, delivered the Philippine statements at the plenary session of the ASEAN summit, said the regional bloc should consider a rules-based accord that will protect the rights of migrant workers.

The Philippines wants to see "more binding set of rules" on the treatment of migrant workers, Carandang said.

“There should be certain standards between the receiving country and the deploying country," he said.

“There is a need for greater protection for migrant workers and we want something that is more binding with regard to how we treat and assist migrant workers," Carandang added. “We want action on it sooner rather than later."

However, getting the consensus of all ASEAN states may be a tough task.

Carandang noted that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was the only one who supported the Philippine initiative.

The Philippines and Indonesia are the largest contributors of workers in the ASEAN region, mainly in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Aside from the Philippines, other members of the ASEAN include: Brunei, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

In the Philippines, about 1.5 million of its more that eight million Filipino workers abroad are deployed in the ASEAN region.

Non-binding agreement

ASEAN signed a similar but non-binding agreement on the protection of migrant workers in 2007.

The document was seen as an important accord to prevent labor abuses.

However, its non-compelling nature and lack of provision to sanction misbehaving members, renders it useless against violations.

Carandang said the Philippines hopes members would soon find merit and importance in adopting a more forceful agreement.

“We want it as soon as possible," he said.


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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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