Monday, December 4, 2017

International Forum on Migration in Doha

The second International Forum on Migration was held at the Intercontinental Doha in Doha, Qatar on December 1, 2017. The Forum was organized by the Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF) with the Philippine Embassy and POLO Doha. The activities was also attended by 250 participants composed of OFWs and Filipino Community leaders.


Ambassador Alan Timbayan gave his message by placing importance on reintegration among OFWs. PMRW President and IAC-MOF Chair Carmelita Nuqui commended the active involvement of the Filipino community in Qatar in promoting the welfare of migrants and members of their families. Several government agencies presented their services, such as Consul General Roussel Reyes on Overseas Absentee Voting registration and Mr. Mark Espina on NRCO’s programs and services.

Ambassador Alan Timbayan
PMRW President Carmelita Nuqui
Consul General Roussel Reyes
Mr. Mark Espina of NRCO
Filipino NGOs in Qatar also shared their programs and services such as PinoyWISE and WASAHQ. Ms. Leslie De Leon of SSS and Ms. Maria Analyn Gaoat of Pag-IBIG shared updates on their respective programs and services.





To impart inspiration to the forum’s attendees, POLO-Doha IT Training Program consultant,  Mr. Robin Oira, shared his training experience and its impact to his students that returned to the Philippines. A special number then followed rendered by Philippine School Doha student and Tawag ng Tanghalan Middle East Edition finalist, Ms. Thea Astley. Afterwards, an open forum was facilitated by Labatt Des Dicang.

Mr. Robin Oira, consultant of POLO-Doha IT Training Program
Ms. Thea Astley sharing a special song number to the participants of the forum.
Open Forum
Labatt Des Dicang

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

International Forum on Migration in Hong Kong

The International Forum on Migration was held at the Admiralty Conference Centre in Hong Kong on November 19, 2017. The Forum was organized by the Inter-Agency Committee on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (IAC-MOF) with the Philippine Consulate General and POLO Hong Kong. The activity was attended by 250 participants composed of OFWs and Filipino Community leaders. This is the first of two international fora conducted this year, with the second forum held in Doha, Qatar.


PMRW President and IAC-MOF Chair Carmelita Nuqui presented the activities lined up for this year’s celebration and the importance of reintegration as this year’s theme. Deputy Consul General Roderico Atienza of PCG Hong Kong gave his remarks with highlighting the recent signing of the ASEAN Accord on the Protection of Migrant Workers.


PMRW President Carmelita G. Nuqui


Deputy Consul General Roderico Atienza of PCG Hong Kong

Several government agencies provided their services for OFs as well as tackle several issues affecting them. Mr. Mark Espina of NRCO presented their reintegration programs and services, while Mr. Frencel Tingga of the CFO presented the initiatives of the Philippine government to combat human trafficking and CFO’s programs and services. Mr. Raymond Francis Ramos of Pag-IBIG Hong Kong and Ms. Lucille Blesilda Simbol of SSS Hong Kong presented updates on their respective programs and services.





Leo Selomenio of Global Alliance shared her experience as a domestic worker and community leader in Hong Kong. She is also one of the main cast of the award-winning film, “Sunday Beauty Queen.” An open forum and cultural presentation followed, performed by OFWs. The forum was capped by a message from Labor AttachĂ© Jalilo dela Torre. 



Leo Selomenio of Global Alliance and cast member of "Sunday Beauty Queen"


Open Forum


Cultural Presentation by OFW group in Hong Kong


Labatt Jalilo dela Torre

Friday, November 10, 2017

IAC-MOF Kicks off Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos in Camarines Sur and Bataan

The Inter-Agency Committee (IAC) on the Celebration of the Month of Overseas Filipinos (MOF), kicks-off the celebration of the MOF through the conduct of Regional Fora on Migration and Migrants’ Health Fair in Camarines Sur and Bataan on November 6 and November 9, 2017.

This year’s MOF theme is “Enhancing Reintegration, Leaving No Migrants and their Families Behind”. It aims to provide awareness on the different reintegration program and services of the government and civil society groups for migrants, migrant returnees and their families. The Regional Fora were organized with support of the Local Government Units of Camarines Sur and Bataan. The Health Fair, which offered free health and wellness services to migrants and their families, was sponsored by the Department of Health.

Pili, Camarines Sur

The Regional Forum on Migration and Migrants' Health Fair was held at the Camarines Sur Convention Center in Pili, Camarines Sur on November 6, 2017 and was attended by 250 participants composed of migrants, migrant returnees and their families, representatives from the government and civil society organizations, mainly from Bicol Region.





Health and government services were provided to the migrants and their families at Camarines Sur.

The movie "Filemon Mamon" was shown before the forum. It's a 2015 film adaptation of the children's storybook of the same title and stage play "Sugod Filemon Mamon." It tackles issues on health and migration, as Filemon is a son of an OFW who dreams of becoming the lead actor in their school's theather play. This film screening was courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines.

During the Forum in the afternoon, representatives from DTI, NRCO, CFO, Philhealth, DOH and the Government of Naga City presented their reintegration programs and services for migrants and their families. Ms. Kristina Oliveros of NRCO Region V discussed how migrants can sustainably prepare for their reintegration in the Philippines. Director Marie Apattad of the CFO presented the BaLinkBayan project, a one-stop online portal for diaspora engagement, while Mr. Ringo Danao gave an update on Philhealth's services for OFWs. Dr. Joel Buenaventura of the DOH discussed the Inter-Agency Medical Repatriation Assistance Program (IMRAP), which aims to streamline the efforts of involved government units during repatriation of Filipino in need of medical care and attention. On the other hand, Ms. Pinky Santi of Pag-IBIG presented updates on their services for migrants and the Pag-IBIG Loyalty Card. Lastly, Mr. Nonoy Reforsado of Naga-LGU discussed on migration and development mainstreaming in their city.





Representatives from various government agencies presented their reintegration programs for migrants and their families during the Regional Forum in the afternoon.

The success story of Mr. Ryan Antiquera, a seafarer who won the Grand Prize at the Business Plan Competition for Seafarers of the NRCO, was presented. His walis tambo business proposal was picked from a total of 41 entries sent by seafarers.

Balanga, Bataan


The Regional Forum on Migration and Migrants' Health Fair in Bataan was held at the Bataan People's Center in Balanga, Bataan on November 9, 2017 and was attended by 250 participants composed of migrants, former migrants and their families, representatives from OFW families' federation and the Local Government of Bataan. The ribbon-cutting ceremonies was led by the representatives of DOH Region III and the Provincial PESO of Bataan to formally open the Migrants' Health Fair. The event started with the Zumba / Hataw exercise care session of the DOH.


The Migrants' Health Fair in Bataan started with the Hataw group exercise.

Services like medical check-ups and lectures on healthy lifestyle and first aid were provided. A demonstration of how to conduct proper cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was also delivered among the migrants.


The participants were demonstrated on how to conduct proper CPR.

Stalls were also sey-up for relevant government agencies and organizations to provide free consultation about available services to migrants such as throse from DOLE, OWWA, CFO, Pag-IBIG, Philhealth, DFA. DTI and IOM. Resource persons from these agencies and organizations also presented their programs and services after the Health Fair.



Over lunch, there was also a film screening of the movie "Bamboo Flowers" courtesy of the Film Development Council of the Philippines. 



The CFO presented its BaLinkBayan website, followed by DOH's IMRAP program. Updates from Pag-IBIG Fund and Philhealth were also presented, especially those services which OFWs may avail. Afterwards, reintegration programs and entrepreneurship and investment opportunities for returning migrants were presented by OWWA and DTI respectively.


Friday, October 27, 2017

Recommendations of the 10th AFML

The Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) presents the recommendations at the 10th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour last October 25-26, 2017 in Manila.

With the theme, "Towards Achieving Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ASEAN," this year's AFML is being organized in the context of the development of the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, and the adoption of the ILO Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers).

PMRW is one of the representatives of the Philippines to the AFML.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

CSO Recommendations for the 10th AFML

The Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) presents the recommendations given by civil society representatives at the 10th ASEAN Forum on Migrant Labour on October 25-26, 2017 in Manila.

With the theme, "Towards Achieving Decent Work for Domestic Workers in ASEAN," this year's AFML is being organized in the context of the development of the ASEAN Framework Instrument on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, and the adoption of the ILO Convention 189 (Convention Concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers).

PMRW is one of the representatives of the Philippines to the AFML.

Monday, October 2, 2017

PMRW Reaffirms Stance on its Updated Statement on the Proposed Department of Migration and Development

PMRW REAFFIRMS STANCE: WE DON’T NEED A DEPARTMENT OF MIGRATION

Philippine Migrants Rights Watch
October 2, 2017

In his first State of the Nation Address in 2016, President Duterte revisited one of the promises he made during the campaign period: the creation of a department for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that “shall focus on and quickly respond to their [OFWs’] problems and concerns” [italics added]. Soon after, five versions of the bill proposing for the creation of a single migration department-variously referred to as the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers, or the Department of Overseas Filipinos, or the Department of Migration and Development—were filed in the House of Representatives and the Senate. In his second State of the Nation Address in 2017, the president did not forget OFWs: “We now talk about our overseas Filipinos. They are our heroes. They and their families have sacrificed much to the… for the country. We all know how a large part of our economic – economy comes from their remittances. That is why to ensure that their rights are protected, I ordered the increase of our assistance to the OFW from 400 million pesos to more than 1 billion”.

The Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW), a registered civil society network established in 1995 to encourage the recognition, protection and fulfillment of Filipino migrants’ rights, is heartened by President Duterte’s attention to the concerns and interests of OFWs. Reviewing the different versions of the bill, PMRW came up with a position paper on September 9, 2016 indicating that the proposed single department will not necessarily be a better alternative to address the challenges of migration governance.

Various discussion and fora on the proposed department had been conducted in the past years. Despite some changes and updates here and there, the fundamental reservations of PMRW remain based on the following reasons:

1) Will the proposed department do better than the current system?

First and foremost, it is not clear what specific gaps in migration governance the new department will fill as well as gaps which cannot be solved under the current system

While the early versions of the bills do not touch the core functions of the two agencies the migrants mostly deal with (i.e. the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or POEA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration or OWWA), parts of both entities are among those which will be transferred to the new department. A recent House version of the bill specifically mentions the abolition of the POEA, OWWA, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and other attached agencies of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). The reason for absorbing the different offices into one department is to reduce migrants’ time and efforts in going to different agencies. The notion of a one-stop shop does not warrant a new department. The One-Stop Shop Service Center, which was launched at the POEA in August 2016 and which has been established in all regional offices of the DOLE and POEA, are sufficient for this purpose.

Proponents of the single department argue that it will provide services and programs throughout the migration cycle-before migration, while migrants are overseas, and upon their return to the Philippines. The comprehensive approach to migration has been codified by RA 8042, is already in place, and is further strengthened by RA 10022. If there are gaps or inadequacies in the implementation of the law’s provisions, creating a new department is not the answer. Is the new department addressing real concerns of migration governance or is it simply creating new administrative positions?

The Philippines’ multi-agency governance framework has worked well in addressing the multi-faceted aspects of the migration phenomenon and the diverse composition of the overseas Filipino population. The Philippines has, in fact, been considered as a model for other origin countries. If this will be replaced, how has the single migration department actually worked in other countries?

      2) How many laws will have to be revised and how much will be required to create the new department?

We wonder whether a study was done to look into the legal and budgetary requirements towards establishing the new department.

The country’s international labor migration framework was established based on several laws, notably, the Labor Code of the Philippines’ provisions on overseas employment, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (RA 8042), An Act Amending RA 8042 (RA 10022), POEA Rules and Regulations Governing the Recruitment and Employment of Land-based OFWs (2016), POEA Rules and Regulations Governing  the Overseas the Recruitment and Employment of Sea-based Workers (2016), and the 2016 Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Act (RA10801), among others. Concerning emigrants or permanent settlers, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas was created by Batas Pambansa 79. These legal frameworks and other normative instruments required long and intensive discussions, debates, studies, consultations and negotiations. How long will it take for Congress to amend the necessary provisions affected by the creation of the new department? Will not the legislative agenda of Congress be hijacked by the massive requirements of the single department? Budget-wise, how much will the setting up of a new department cost? The streamlining of the Executive Branch has been identified among the legislative priority of the president—the creation of a new department runs counter to this goal.

      3) Which department will be mainly responsible for protecting Filipinos overseas?

Most issues concerning the protection of overseas Filipinos occur while they are abroad. The country-team approach established by RA 8042 confers to the ambassador, and therefore to the DFA, the leadership in extending protection to overseas Filipinos.

According to the various bills, the proposed department will assume the responsibility of establishing and implementing the Philippines’ migration policy. This will create ambiguities in who will be the lead agency in providing protection to Filipinos while they are overseas. How will the new department relate with the DFA, whose third pillar of Philippine foreign policy is [the] “protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas”?

The experience of India is instructive. In 2004, India established the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) to take care of Indian nationals based overseas. In January 2016, MOIA was merged with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) because of the realization that most of the work of MOIA was being done by the embassies (which also have competencies in providing protection to overseas Indians).

      4) What is the main scope of the proposed department?

The different versions of the bill employ different titles: the Department of Migration and Development implies linking migration to development whereas the Department of Overseas Filipino Workers indicates a specific focus on OFWs (one version mentions OFWs and the families left behind). Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III views a department devoted to OFWs as further institutionalizing overseas employment, which is the very opposite of what this administration wants. Indeed, upon closer examination of the different versions of the bill, all of them actually focus on OFWs.

While OFWs are a significant part of the overseas Filipino population, the Filipino diaspora is a lot larger and more diverse. Which population is covered by the proposed department: overseas Filipinos or OFWs? The objectives and functions of the proposed department will vary considerably, depending on the definition of the scope or population covered by the proposed department.

       5) If the main issue is streamlining and coordination, what is the best solution?

In consultations with government officials involved in the governance of migration, they highlighted the need for inter-agency coordination and communication in the implementation of programs and the delivery of services. One source of such difficulties could be the co-chairing functions mandated by law to different departments, an issue that can be easily solved by amending particular sections in existing laws. For migrants, what could be beneficial is access to one physical place where the different institutions issuing the required documents are present. In that regard, rather than a new department, which is a political/administrative entity, what is needed is a physical place hosting the various institutions. As mentioned earlier, the one-stop-service center responds to this need; online transactions are responding to this need as well.

As civil society organizations, we have been and will continue to be critical participants in the governance of Philippine migration, to help ensure that the best interest of the migrants is met. While the Philippines is considered a model of migration governance by the international community, there is room for improvement, particularly at the level of implementing the normative framework. Nonetheless, we are not convinced that a new department of migration is needed or that it will drastically solve current shortcomings. It is our impression that it might generate further difficulties. In view of the diversity of overseas Filipinos, it is also our conviction that the way forward in the governance of migration is not an encompassing one-size-fits-all migration bureaucracy.

We call for a careful study of the gaps in migration governance and for more public discussions and consultations before rushing into the establishment of a single migration agency.

END

CONTACT PERSON:

Carmelita G. Nuqui
President, PMRW
Tel:      (63 2) 526-9098
Fax:     (63 2) 526-9101


PMRW MEMBERS (Philippines)
·       
Apostleship of the Sea-Manila Chaplaincy
Center for Migrant Advocacy
Development Action for Women Network
Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People- CBCP 
Scalabrini Center for People on the Move
Scalabrini Migration Center
Scalabrinian Lay Association

PMRW ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
·       
            University of San Agustin (Philippines)
·         International Catholic Migration Commission (Switzerland)
·         Migrant Workers’ Concern Desk (Taiwan)
·         Moyse (South Korea)
·         Scalabrini International Migration Institute (Italy)
·         Seoul Archdiocesan Labor Pastoral Commission (South Korea)
·         Stella Maris International Migrants’ Service Center (Taiwan)