Philippines backs 'long-overdue' UN migration pact

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines joined other United Nations (UN) member-states  in approving the final text of an international agreement ensuring better treatment for migrants on Friday, July 13.

The UN Global Compact on Migration lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage the influx of migrants, who have reached 250 million around the world.

Philippine Foreign Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Sarah Arriola said on Friday, July 13, that the compact "is long overdue."

"Through our 4 decades of managing migration, we had fought for this: for migration to come to the UN and be recognized as a global issue worthy of mankind's attention," Arriola said during the final round of negotiations at the UN Headquarters in New York.

Arriola said the compact is achored on human rights, and the protection of the rights and welfare of migrants, and domestic workers.

"In the course of our negotiations, we must not forget that we are setting a moral standard for the world – not just in the purposes we achieve but in the sincerity and civility with which we attain them. We realize our humanity when we uphold the rights and dignity of every migrant," she said.

The Philippine official also said that the compact "affirms" that migration governance is a "shared responsibility" and not handled by one state alone.

In September 2016, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a non-binding political declaration, the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants.

The declaration pledges to uphold the rights of refugees and migrants, help them resettle, and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

The United States has pulled out of the global compact, saying it was "inconsistent" with its "America First" policy. The Hungarian government has also expressed interest to withdraw from the agreement.

The document is set to be formally adopted in a conference in Morocco on December 10 to 11.

According to the 2015 UN International Migration Report, the Philippines is among the top 10 countries of origin with the largest diaspora populations.

The labor and foreign departments have since been lobbying for the protection of Filipino migrants, recently finalizing a protection agreement for overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait. –

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.