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Binay pushes for protection of migrant workers against abuses

Reports from the International Labor Organization revealed that a considerable amount of migrant workers from Asia are working illegally, particularly in the Arab region, according to Vice President Jejomar Binay in his speech delivered during the 23rd Conference of the Presidents of Law Associations in Asia (POLA) held from August 27-29 at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City.

“Human trafficking and human smuggling or illegal recruitment flourish in part because destination countries do not complement the efforts of labor-sending countries at combating these twin evils in labor migration,” explained Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFWs) Concerns, chairman emeritus of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Trafficking in Persons (IACAT), and chairman of the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (PTFAIR).

He also said that abuses committed against women migrant workers in particular are varied. “A report on Asian women’s labor migration mentions cases of abuse against domestics, including long working hours, no days off, restriction on freedom of movement and association, lack of pay, and physical and sexual violations,” he was quoted saying in various news reports.

Though he admitted that we have yet to see accurate figures on the abuses of foreign employers, he said, “From the sheer volume of overseas workers, it may safely be assumed that the figure of human rights violations could rise to very high levels.”

The country sends out over 800,000 workers overseas annually, according to Binay. And it has been common knowledge that the revenues of these overseas workers have greatly contributed to the development of Philippine economy.

But the lack of accurate figures on abuses has been blamed on the lack of cooperation from host countries as well.

Foreign workers who have entered through underground means and without proper authorization and documentation are also not accounted in the statistics.

He said that nations big on labor export, such as the Philippines, should “secure the best possible deal for their overseas workers within a bilateral rather than a multilateral framework” in order to avert abuses on migrant workers.

Issues on human trafficking and drug-related and cross-border crimes, he also said, are being addressed seriously, for the reason that ‘they relate directly to the core of our efforts to raise the quality of life and the very future of our labor-supplying nation.”

He guaranteed that the national government is taking appropriate measures to ensure that the interests and rights of migrant workers are protected.