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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
H.E. Mr. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Permanent Representative
Philippine Mission to the United Nations

Agenda Item 54: Globalization and Interdependence
(c ) International Migration and Development

On the 60th United Nations General Assembly
New York, 28 October 2005

Mr. Chairman,

The distinguished representative of Jamaica, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, has articulated the concerns of the members of the G77 on the important issue of globalization and interdependence, including international migration and development, to which the Philippines associates itself.

On behalf of my delegation, I would like to thank the Secretary General for his report on International Migration and Development (A/60/205). This document serves as useful inputs in preparing for the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development next year, which provides an opportunity for member countries to discuss the multifaceted aspects of migration and to explore ways and means to enhance international cooperation in dealing with this important and complex issue.

Mr. Chairman,

In addressing the migration phenomenon, the Philippines believes that we should build upon what our leaders have agreed on at the 2005 World Summit Outcome, particularly paragraphs 61 to 63 dealing on Migration and development.

For this reason, the Philippines welcomes the outcome of the High Level Plenary Meeting recognizing the important linkages between international migration and development and the need to address this issue in a coordinated and comprehensive manner. Indeed, the international movement of about 185 million to 192 million migrants by early 2005 as the UN's official estimate indicates, calls for a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent approach to address its multifaceted aspects, including its politico-security, its social, it cultural, as well as its economic development impacts.

Mr. Chairman,

The Philippines is confident that the High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in 2006 would provide us an opportunity to address all these concerns. More importantly, the High level Dialogue should focus on the following areas, borne about by the 2005 World Summit Outcome.

First, the nexus between migration and development, particularly the socio-economic effects of international migration. The World Migration Report, 2005 published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicates that "despite paucity of data, there is emerging evidence that emigration brings relative benefits in terms of reducing absolute poverty…"

Second, the remittances issue. Our leaders have reaffirmed their resolve at the September 2005 High-level Plenary Meeting to address this issue, especially in terms of adopting policies and undertaking measures to reduce the cost of transferring migrant remittances to developing countries.

Third, the need to ensure respect for and protection of the rights of migrant workers, particularly women migrants, and members of their families.

And fourth, enhancing global governance and cooperation on international migration. There is a need for more consultations among actors and stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels to smoothly manage migration flows. There is also a need to identify inter-governmental action and institutional mechanism to enhance cooperation at the global level. More importantly, the roles of various UN bodies and agencies as well as other international institutions dealing with migration such as the IOM, and their relationships should be clearly established in order to arrive at a coherent approach to dealing with the migration phenomenon.

Allow me, Mr. Chairman, to dwell on the aspects of migration from the Philippines' perspective.

Overseas employment is driven by two essential forces, namely, the demand for particular skills in one country, and the availability of skilled manpower in another. The receiving country gains skills for which it did not invest in terms of infrastructure and human resource development; the sending country is able to alleviate its unemployment levels.

The Philippines is one of the major labor exporting countries in the world, with some seven million Filipinos, or almost nine per cent of our population, living outside the country and more than half of them on a temporary basis. Filipino workers abroad remit approximately 8 billion US Dollars annually through formal channels representing more than 10 per cent of our GDP. These dollar remittances help the economy of my country.

Regardless of the economic rewards of overseas employment at the macro and micro levels, studies have also shown that there are risks, costs and problems that accompany working and living in a foreign environment. The most common problems encountered by these overseas workers are violations of their basic rights.

Believing that a good welfare and protection program benefits the workers as well as the receiving country, the Philippine government has crafted a program that looks at the employment process from beginning to end, from application for an overseas job to a worker's integration upon return. It is in this context that the Philippines created, among others, government institutions such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

The Philippines continues to forge and upgrade bilateral or multilateral arrangements with host governments. Experience shows that, whenever the entry of Filipino workers into a host country is governed by a bilateral agreement or arrangement, migration problems are attended to more effectively.

Mr. Chairman,

The emigration of Filipinos to work abroad is not expected to abate in the foreseeable future despite the rise in per capita income and reduction of poverty in my country. Filipino contract workers will continue to be in high demand because of their sound education, training and work ethic. In the meantime, there are lessons to be learned from the Philippine migration experience.

The first is that there is no substitute for good governance in migration management. Good governance in this case requires a comprehensive and inclusive government effort.

The second lesson is that regulation must continue if the basic safety nets are to be ensured. The process in the Philippines is centrally managed and regulated. This situation will likely remain until international protocols or conventions respected by both sending and receiving countries are able to provide sufficient protection to people who leave their countries to work elsewhere.

The third lesson is that global competitiveness in labor migration needs to take account of the potential benefits of overseas employment. This cannot be achieved through depressing working standards or lowering wages. Skills, productivity and the ability to adjust to a new workplace together with respect for its new and possibly different cultural environment must be taken into account. Anything less contributes to a perception that labor is a commodity, like consumer goods.

Managing international migration requires collective efforts internally and internationally. In short, there must be a comprehensive support at all points both from the public and private sectors along the labor migration cycles. A lack of capacity to jointly manage such critical issues to mutual benefit would be detrimental to all. Joint management efforts must both support the value of orderly movement over irregular migration, and acknowledge the increasing desire of overseas migrants to participate in the activities of their host countries. The right of states to prescribe appropriate conduct and behavior of people seeking to settle, temporarily or otherwise, in their territories should give due regard nevertheless to the important new role of migrant laborers in the growth and development of the economy at both ends of the migration spectrum.

Meanwhile, the international community would not be able to address this complex issue in a comprehensive and coherent manner if we lack sufficient empirical data that will help us understand the multidimensional aspects of migration. In this regard, the Philippines welcomes the report of the GCIM presented to the Secretary General, as well as other reports and studies on the migration issue.

We hope that the GCIM Report generates publicity on migration issue and encourage a comprehensive and sustained global/regional debate on it. While it is not expected that every recommendation of the Report will be adopted, we hope however, that discussing them will generate further ideas leading to positive action on migration.

Mr. Chairman,

We also look forward to receiving the Secretary General's report dealing with the comprehensive overview of studies and analyses on the multidimensional aspects of migration and development as called for in last years' resolution (A/RES/59/241). Such analysis would help enrich our discussion on this issue at the High Level Dialogue in 2006, and assist us in forging a cogent and comprehensive global response to the migration phenomenon.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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