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

Philippine Statement

Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations

at the General Debate on Agenda Item 51 (b) “International
migration and development”

63rd Session, General Assembly

29 October 2008


Mr. Chair,

Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving the floor to the Philippines.

The Philippines aligns itself with the statements delivered by Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the G-77 and China, and that by Indonesia on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippines commends and congratulates the Secretary-General for his report on “International migration and development”, contained in document A/63/265. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the activities being conducted in various forums, including the Global Forum on Migration and Development and those under auspices of the UN and other relevant international organizations, as well as other international mechanisms that discuss this issue. The report also notes that there has been a marked increase in intergovernmental cooperation since the 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development, which would require continued cooperation at the global level.

Mr. Chair,

It seems that there is a promise of much serendipity in the Philippines’ taking the floor today on the subject at hand. On this date, the 29 th of October, in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, we have the opening ceremonies of the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD2) with no less than H.E. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivering his address in the presence of H.E. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, H.E. Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alberto Romulo of the Philippines. One hundred sixty one (161) countries, seventeen (17) international organizations and two hundred fifty (250) NGOs are participating.

I stated during the opening General Debate in the Second Committee that the Philippines considers the Migration Dimension of Globalization as creating another acronym: MDG. Without doubt, this new MDG is an important issue to the Philippines based on several realities:

  1. An estimated 10% of the Philippine population or around 8.72 million Filipinos are found in about 199 different countries and territories around the world either as overseas Filipino workers and expatriates, or are seeking permanent residency or foreign citizenship. This number includes the 227,000 Filipinos serving aboard international merchant marine vessels, making the Philippines top source of workers in this area.
  2. According to UN-DESA figures, the Philippines is one of the top ten countries in annual average net migration, and recent figures show that in 2007, the annual number of Filipinos leaving for work abroad increased by about 25% to over 1 million Filipinos.
  3. World Bank figures show that the Philippines is in the top ten of remittance receiving countries (estimated US $17 billion for 2007), and in the top twenty countries in terms of remittances received as a percentage of GDP (13% of GDP).
  4. Philippine civil society is one of the most ardent advocates of the protection of migrants’ rights, and it constantly engages the government in pushing for these issues to be brought to the international level.

In view of all these reasons, it is no wonder that the protection of Filipino nationals abroad and the promotion of their welfare are among the pillars of Philippine foreign policy. The conduct of the Philippine foreign relations is in no small measure driven by the interests of its citizens and nationals in foreign lands and on the high seas. Domestic policy, laws and institutions likewise address these concerns making the Philippine experience on migration issues quite comprehensive and diverse.

The Congress of the Philippines enacted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 following a series of unfortunate experiences of overseas Filipino workers. This has created the position in the Department of Foreign Affairs of an Undersecretary on Migrant Workers Affairs. The Philippines has also specialized agencies, such as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Commission of Filipinos Overseas (CFO), which oversee the migrants’ needs from pre-departure, assimilation abroad and reintegration when they return. A system of labor attachés are also deployed in posts with large concentrations of overseas Filipino workers.

On the other side of the coin, we find another reality. This Philippine diaspora has, beyond cavil, been contributing much to the economy and development of the host countries.

Mr. Chair,

One of the themes of the Second Global Forum on Migration and Development is “Protecting and Empowering Migration and Development” . As it is gong on at this very hour, it may be a bit premature to present to the Second Committee a summary of the discussions. However, we can be assured that the results of the meetings will hopefully be reflected in the Resolution that is currently being negotiated in this Committee. With reference to this draft resolution, the Philippines strongly supports the call for another UN High-Level Dialogue in 2011 as a follow-up to the 2006 dialogue, to review all processes dealing with migration and to assess possible convergent positions in meeting the challenges and opportunities presented by migration.

In conclusion, allow me to state that from initial feedback, the roundtable discussions in both the civil society and government segments of the GFMD in Manila were very lively and spirited. The wealth of ideas and the multidimensional nature of migration make it very difficult to cover all aspects of this issue, and this ensures that the next four confirmed hostings of the GFMD will have a rich agenda upon which to build a better understanding of and global consensus on migration and development in all its multi-dimensional aspects.

I thank you.

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