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)

Friday, September 22, 2017

PCG Jeddah's Advisory on Extension of Amnesty

The Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Jeddah posted this advisory on the extension of amnesty for undocumented OFWs.



For more details, you may check the PCG's official website.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

PMRW Granted Consultative Relationship with AICHR



The Philippine Migrants Rights Watch (PMRW) was granted consultative relationship with the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

The AICHR is an inter-governmental body and an integral part of the ASEAN organizational structure. As a consultative body, AICHR develops strategies for the promotion and protection of human rights to complement the building of the ASEAN community, enhance public awareness of human rights among the peoples of ASEAN, promote capacity building for the effective implementation of human rights treaty obligations by Member States, promote the full implementation of ASEAN instruments related to human rights, and engage in dialogue and consultation with other ASEAN bodies and entities, including CSOs, among others.

The Consultative Relationship with the AICHR aims to establish an enabling environment for meaningful and constructive engagement and interaction between AICHR and CSOs; further strengthen ASEAN cooperation in the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) and the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the AHRD, international human rights instruments to which ASEAN Member States are parties; and contribute to the building of a people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community.

Being in consultative relationship, the AICHR may seek to consult PMRW through consultations, seminars, workshops, and implementation of specific studies and projects of the AICHR Work Plan.

PMRW looks forward to a productive partnership with AICHR in the promotion and protection of the rights of migrants and their families.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Joint Memorandum Circular on Medical Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos Signed

GOVERNMENT AGENCIES UNITE TO OFFER INTER-AGENCY MEDICAL REPATRIATION ASSISSTANCE PACKAGE TO OVERSEAS FILIPINOS

“In the past, our government agencies have been doing medical repatriation for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), but there is little coordination with each other. With this Joint Memorandum Circular, we are establishing a better and integrated system for medical repatriations, which will hasten the provision of medical services for our modern day heroes,” thus declared Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Roger Tong-an in his welcome remarks during the signing of the said Circular held at the Hotel Jen, Pasay City.

Heads of seven participating government agencies signed the “Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on the Integrated Policy Guidelines and Procedures in the Conduct of Medical Repatriation of Overseas Filipinos (OFs).”

The JMC aims to streamline the inter-agency efforts of the Philippine government in facilitating the Medical Repatriation Assistance Package (MRAP), which provides assistance to OFs who need to be transported back to the country for further medical care and attention.

“The JMC is there as an instrument for healing. Tutulungan natin ang mga OFW na may malubhang kalagayan na makabalik sa Pilipinas. In other words, the JMC tells the OFW, “hindi lang kayo statistics sa amin-- tao kayo sa amin. Kaya kung malubha ang sakit at hindi ka pwedeng iuwi, gagawin namin ang lahat na dun ka ipagamot. Pero pwede kang umuwi at kaya, may sistemang nakahanda dito,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in his keynote speech. He also encouraged the involved agencies to “go the extra mile” in delivering the services to the OFWs, pointing out that the implementing government offices should conduct an evaluation of the process and meet again after two to three months of implementation in order to address issues and concerns that may arise.  

Under the MRAP, medically repatriated OFs can avail of the following services for free: Airport Assistance and Initial Medical Assessment/Evaluation, Ambulance Conduction, Referral to and/or Confinement in a DOH Hospital, Endorsement to non-DOH Health Facilities, Financial Assistance, PhilHealth Membership Coverage, Medical Escort Services, and Psychosocial Counseling.

The DOH spearheaded the development of this JMC in an effort to harmonize existing processes and procedures, and to formalize inter-agency coordination and cooperation among the participating offices during medical repatriation of OFs, conducted in partnership with the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Social Welfare and Development, the Interior and Local Government, Labor and Employment (and its attached agencies, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), the Manila International Airport Authority, and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.

The Circular will take effect 15 days upon its signing.

Source: Department of Health

Friday, March 31, 2017

Philippine Embassy in Riyadh's Bulletin on the 2017 KSA Amnesty Programme

The Department of Foreign Affairs, through our embassy in Riyadh, posed its bulletin on the 2017 KSA Amnesty Programme: "A Nation Without Violators." Details are provided below:



In 29 March 2017, the embassy provided procedures for amnesty application. Details are provided through this link.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

No Need for OFWS to Pay For Terminal Fee at NAIA Starting 30 April 2017



Effective April 30, 2017, OFWs need not pay for their terminal fee at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminals. In the Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Transportation and 40 airline companies operating at the NAIA signed last March 15, 2017, the International Passenger Service Charge (IPSC), also known as the terminal fee, is waived for OFWs. This is in accordance to RA 8042, also known as the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended by RA 10022. The said IPSC waiver is also provided to pilgrims, Philippine Sports Commission delegates and others authorized by law and the Office of the President traveling outside of the country.

This waiving of terminal fees starting April are for face-to-face ticket purchases, while online ticket purchases will be waived by the end of July 2017.


PMRW is in the forefront of advocating against integration of the terminal fee on ticket purchases of OFWs. As part of the No to 550 Coalition, PMRW is actively involved in lobbying with lawmakers and campaigning for the immediate scrapping of this fare integrating system and waive terminal fees at all modes of ticket purchase.