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High Level Event of the 73rd General Assembly on The Future of Work with Decent Work

Thursday, 11 April 2019
MS. KIRA CHRISTIANNE D. AZUCENA Chargé ď affaires, a.i. and Deputy Permanent Representative
UN Headquarters, New York


The President of the General Assembly,

Honorable Co-Chairs

Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon

The Philippines congratulates the President of the UN General Assembly for convening this High-Level Event and extends its sincere felicitations to the International Labour Organization on its Centenary.

We commend the ILO for the comprehensive report of the Global Commission which highlights new forces that transform the world of work. These forces include technological advances, climate change, and demographic shifts which all call for decisive action.

Advances in technology is not just a concept; it is a reality that holds a lot of possibilities. Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics will create new jobs and opportunities, but we must bear in mind that those who will be affected in this transition may be the least equipped to face the challenges that they offer, further widening the chasm of inequalities and poverty. This vulnerable workforce needs our support. We not only have to equip them with the proper skills and prepare them for an increasingly AI-driven and technology-intensive economy, but also provide social protection policies to address emerging imperfections and inequalities in the labor market in order to achieve the twin objective of economic growth and employment.

These policies should include strategies that will increase the participation of women, young people and the other vulnerable groups in the labor market. This is in keeping with the Goals of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, which the Philippines is committed to achieve.

The Philippines’ initiatives in addressing the fresh challenges in the world of work are focused on promoting decent work while at the same time protecting the rights and welfare of Filipino workers at home and overseas.

On strengthening social protection, the Philippine government recently set into motion several laws which bolster its commitment to the right of every Filipino to have dignified and secured lives. These include:

1.    the Green Jobs Act of 2016 which is a policy framework for fostering low-carbon, resilient  sustainable growth and decent job creation by providing incentives to enterprises generating green jobs, with focus on developing human capital to enable and sustain the transition to a greener economy;

2.    The Occupational Safety and Health Law which mandates strict compliance of employers to workplace safety standards;

3.    The Telecommuting Act which institutionalizes telecommuting-- a work arrangement that allows an employee to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies-- as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector;

4.    The Expanded Maternity Leave Law which grants to all working mothers in the government and private sector 105 days of paid maternity leave credits, with 7 days transferable to fathers, and an additional 15 days of paid leave granted to single mothers; and,

5.    The Handbook for OFWs Act of 2018 which requires government to publish and distribute handbooks for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) containing their rights and responsibilities.

On human capital development, we are convinced that the youth is one of the driving forces of economic growth. Our ten-year basic education program has been modified to provide our students with an additional two years of learning to better prepare them to join the workforce. Aside from improving literacy and numeracy skills, the Program, through its Technical-Vocational Livelihood Track and its specializations, focus on teaching technical skills necessary to help the youth find productive employment responsive to the needs of the community.

Republic Act (RA) No. 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act provides free tuition and other school fees in state universities and colleges, local universities and colleges and state-run technical-vocational institutions, establishes the tertiary education subsidy and student loan program, and strengthens the unified student financial assistance system for tertiary education.

Our strategic investment in skills training is paving the way to the productive employment of our youth. Also, the JobStart Philippines Act seeks to benefit at-risk youth through enhancement of their knowledge and technical skills, and the provision of internship opportunities that will shorten their school-to-work transition. The program also aspires to improve the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) capacity in providing full-cycle employment facilitation services.

We are of the view that we need to have proactive labor market policies inorder to cope with the changes the future of work will bring. We strongly welcome the ASEAN initiatives Labor Market Information System (LMIS) and the TRIANGLE in ASEAN which delivers technical assistance and support to governments, social partners, civil society and regional bodies for the purpose of maximizing the contribution of labour migration to stable, equitable, and inclusive growth and development in ASEAN.  

As part of the centenary initiatives of the ILO, the Philippine government adopted a Seven-Year (2018-2024) Decent Work Country Programme built upon promoting employment for women, youth and the vulnerable sectors, the extension of  social protection to all, promotion of  tripartiteism, social dialogue and the promotion of rights at work. We did this in collaboration with all our social partners.

Ladies and gentlemen, these initiatives address a few of the challenges that we are currently facing. This radical shift in the world of work is sure to create winners and losers, and the government cannot address these challenges alone. Continued collaborative tripartite partnership between governments, workers and employers, supported by our social partners on the ground and strengthened international cooperation are just a few of many ways we can adapt to the changing trends in the world of work, ensuring that we achieve our common vision in attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

Thank you for your attention.