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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations
MR. TOMAS M. OSIAS
Commission on Population
Thirty-Ninth Session of the Commission on Population and Development
At the outset, allow me to extend my congratulations to you and the members of your Bureau on your election. The Philippines stands ready to extend its utmost support to you and with other Delegations in accomplishing the tasks ahead of us in this Session. The Philippines aligns itself also with the statement of the distinguished representative of South Africa on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
As a country that is a major source of international migrants, the Philippines attaches great importance to the 39th Session of the Commission on Population and Development that looks at international migration and development as its theme. We likewise affirm our commitment to the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Key Actions for its Further Implementation.
Allow me to highlight some of the experiences of the Philippines and the policies and actions undertaken by the Philippine Government related to migration and development
Filipino migrant workers continue to be regarded as the unsung heroes of the Philippines essentially because of their contributions to Philippine development. The huge amount of dollar remittances estimated by the UN to have reached $11.6 Billion last year is a big boost to the Philippine economy, contributing 18% to the GNP.
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) consist mainly of skilled and semi-skilled as well as highly skilled or professional workers. A large number of health professionals, particularly of nurses, estimated to have reached at least 100,000 have left the country since 1994 to work abroad. Pull and push factors contribute to this phenomenon. Greater opportunities for growth, significantly higher pay, better working and living conditions abroad, continue to draw more and more Filipino healthcare practitioners to leave the country. In turn, this situation brings greater challenges in meeting the domestic demand for health professionals and on the quality and adequacy of local health care delivery.
Apart from concerns brought about by an increasingly high migration of health professionals to the local healthcare delivery in the Philippines, we also address issues attendant to the increasing feminization of international labor migration from the country. Concentration of migrant women workers has been a source of much attention. Because of the nature of employment of some Filipino women workers, they have become vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
As a response to the various concerns of our Filipino migrant workers, the Philippine Government adopted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act (RA 8042) of 1995, also known as the Magna Carta for Overseas Filipino Workers. This law was adopted to institute policies on overseas employment and establish a high standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers, their families, and overseas Filipinos in distress. The adoption and implementation of this law resulted into increased benefits and services to overseas Filipino workers and their families. Under the said (RA 8042), the government enacted a framework to promote the welfare of migrant workers and instituted concrete programs to assist them in their difficulties abroad. The Government created agencies such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to address the continuing needs of overseas Filipino workers.
Likewise, other related national policies, such as Republic Act 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, have been promulgated to ensure the protection of Filipinos. The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, is a milestone in the promotion of human dignity and protection of persons specially of women and children against any threat of violence and exploitation. It seeks to eliminate trafficking, the establishment of necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons and the provision of penalties for violations of the law.
While migration of workers has satisfied many basic of the needs of Filipino families, we also cannot ignore the social costs attendant to migrant families as a result of prolonged separation. In some instances, separation leads to the breakdown of families, the deterioration and underdevelopment of children and the development of a culture of consumerism.
Cognizant of these realities, various sectors in the Philippines render support and contribution to an analysis of the situation and the identification of relevant interventions to institute more responsive policies and programs. The Philippine Government and other concerned sectors such as the medical professional organizations, the academe, the business community and the NGOs, are actively seeking appropriate strategies to address, for instance, the exodus of highly educated and highly skilled segment of the population that drains the country of reliable workforce. The Government focuses on the migration of health workers since this phenomenon impacts further on the critical aspects of the country’s development, such as improving the overall quality and availability of healthcare delivery in the country. Furthermore, it also affects the country’s success in meeting the Millennium Development Goals for improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, and combating HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
Cognizant of these challenges, the Philippines accords great importance to the migration issue and its linkages to development through sustained efforts to mobilize resources for migration-related programs and mechanisms, as well as by enriching program development related to migration.
The local population community continues to devote more attention to migration issues and sustain efforts to address international migration-related concerns through advocacy, policy reforms and public awareness and education. The national government continues to strengthen the necessary structures and mechanisms to address international migration concerns and assist overseas contract workers and their families. The Philippine Government also engages in building-up the evidence-base to provide a wider, comprehensive and up-to-date analysis of migration-related issues. For instance, the next issue of the State of the Philippine Population Report (SPPR) will adopt migration as its theme.
In conclusion, we join the call for international and regional cooperation to establish mutually beneficial policies and programs, mechanisms and institutions for the welfare and protection of overseas migrant workers and the impacts of the migration phenomenon to both the sending and receiving countries. We also express our commitment to sustain interest in the discussion of migration concerns for greater understanding of the issues and a meaningful cooperation among states and other segments in the international community. We can learn much from the various recommendations of the Report of the Global Commission on International Migration, in this regard, as well as from the Compendium of Recommendations on International Migration and Development prepared by the Secretariat. Lastly, we look forward to the General Assembly High Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in September this year, to address this important issue in a more comprehensive and holistic manner.
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