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Phl promotes concrete steps to implement Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) at IMRF 2022

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NEW YORK CITY — Just more than three years after adopting the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), the Philippines has made headlines in its successes in ensuring that migrations are voluntary, orderly, and regular at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) on May 17, 2022.

“The Philippines has breathed life and embraced the GCM as seen in our laws, policies, and our bilateral and multilateral engagements,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said at the first Roundtable of the IMRF at the United Nations Headquarters.

Undersecretary Arriola said the Philippines is committed to implement the GCM as it has been reflected in the new Chapter 21 of the country’s blueprint for development, the Philippine Development Plan. The PDP serves as the domestic implementation of the GCM, providing coherence to ongoing migration work and improving overall migration governance.

Among the reforms she highlighted was the enactment of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) in December 2021. Considered as a Duterte Legacy, the DMW has made the Philippines a trailblazer in putting a premium on migrant protection for a post-pandemic response.

“This has made the Philippines the first country in the world to include in its domestic law an explicit provision on the progressive realization of the 23 Objectives of the GCM. We have transformed the 23 Objectives from a moral imperative to a state obligation,” Undersecretary Arriola added.

She also cited the efforts of the Philippine government to protect over 10 million Filipino migrant workers, stranded migrants, and tourists during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is the first time that almost two million Filipino migrants abroad returned to the Philippines within a short period of time, with our COVID-19 response heavily anchored on 5Rs: Relief, Repatriation, Recovery, Return, and Reintegration. Our borders remained open for those coming home. We also facilitated the expatriation of foreign nationals who were stranded in the country, even organizing sweeper flights to bring them to various international gateways,” she said.

She said that this is a reflection of the Philippines’ relentless commitment and dedication to realizing and implementing various objectives of the GCM into the country’s domestic and international affairs and governance as a GCM Champion.

The DFA official also discussed the Philippine government’s campaign to reform the kafala system—a sponsorship system that may result in the worker being “trapped in slave-like conditions.”

Undersecretary Arriola cited reforms in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia that resulted in the improvement of labor mobility of Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East.

“Cooperating with partners to seek reforms to the Kafala system echoes our call for fair and ethical recruitment and labor mobility, particularly in the Middle East where there are more than 2.4 million Filipino migrant workers,” Arriola said.

The Philippines has signed over 50 bilateral labor agreements and five regional agreements to improve labor mobility as well as to ensure the safety and well-being of Filipino migrant workers.

“With Philippines having the largest number of seafarers serving the world’s merchant and cruise fleets, the “green lane” policy for seafarers was established to allow crew change in ports while minimizing COVID risks,” Undersecretary Arriola said on the outcomes of the Philippines’ engagements with various states in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first Roundtable of the IMRF tackled specific GCM objectives on minimizing adverse drivers; regular pathways; recruitment and decent work; screening and referral; and skills development and recognition.

The IMRF is the primary intergovernmental global platform to discuss and share progress on the implementation of all aspects of the GCM with the participation of all relevant stakeholders.

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