Aquino pushes host countries to protect OFWs

Natashya Gutierrez

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'They contribute significantly to [your] economies and societies too.' The Philippine President calls for promotion of migrant workers' rights at the ASEAN-Plus Three Summit with heads of state of Korea, Japan, and China

MIGRANT RIGHTS. President Benigno Aquino III pushes for increased rights for migrant workers, with about 10 million Filipinos estimated to work abroad. File photo by Malacañang Photo Bureau

NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar – With an estimated 10 million Overseas Filipino Workers, President Benigno Aquino III pushed for increased protection for migrant workers at the ASEAN-related summits here.

Aquino on Thursday, November 13, called for stronger promotion of rights for migrant workers at the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit with Japan, Korea and China.

“Of course, it is necessary for us to ensure the safety and security of all our peoples. For this reason, the Philippines supports efforts to address migrant workers’ issues under the APT Cooperation Work Plan,” he said.

“Migrant workers contribute significantly to the economies and societies of their host governments. We have a collective responsibility and moral duty to uphold their dignity and promote and protect their human rights.”

His statement comes after the ASEAN-UN Summit, before which, he also referred to the “protection of human rights and the empowerment of women” as “matters our region must pay close attention to.”

Increased protection for migrant workers was one of the priorities of Aquino coming into ASEAN.

Disaster, terrorism

At the APT, other issues Aquino pushed for included stronger cooperation in disaster management and cooperating on non-traditional security issues.

He said major natural disasters like Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) which ravaged the Philippines in 2013, shows the need for grater APT cooperation on disaster risk reduction “since these increasingly powerful disasters are a threat to every country.”

In this field, Aquino took the chance to thank China for its assistance.

“The recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between ASEAN and China on Disaster Management is a major step towards deepening APT cooperation,” he said.

“China’s generous contribution of 50 million Yuan supports the implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) Work Programme, the strengthening of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre), and the ASEAN Secretariat’s capacity-building programs on disaster management.”

But Aquino emphasized another threat must be addressed: that of terrorism. He praised the Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Crime.

As in every summit, Aquino also highlighted the need to manage tensions in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), again pushing for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the area.

The Philippines is one of 4 ASEAN nations, including Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia, that have clashed with China over claims over disputed territories in the South China Sea. –

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.