- Mr Gustavo González, United Nations Resident Coordinator;
- Ms Kristin Dadey, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM);
- Ms Sarah Knibbs, Officer-in-Charge of the United Nations Entity for Gender and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific;
- Mr Hans Leo Cacdac, Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration;
- Members of the Philippine United Nations Migration Network;
- Representatives from government, civil society organizations, trade unions, employers’ organizations, Private Recruitment Associations, academe, partner Local Government Units and Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) groups;
- Colleagues from ILO, IOM, and UN Women comprising the BRIDGE and Safe and Fair Programmes, as well as colleagues from the RC Office, who have all jointly organized this event;
- Colleagues from other UN agencies;
- Ladies and gentlemen, magandang hapon po (good afternoon)!
This event is made more significant as we celebrate the International Migrants Day and the Month of Overseas Filipinos.
We acknowledge with much appreciation the strong support from partners in migration-related initiatives, particularly on the return and reintegration of Overseas Filipinos and Overseas Filipino Workers, especially during COVID-19 pandemic.
Effective reintegration (and preparedness) can mitigate the risks of violence and labor exploitation at all stages of the migration process from pre-migration, onsite, to their return.
Prior to migration, we should ensure that the OFW is not debt-bonded, illegally recruited, trafficked or forced into slavery-like conditions;
Onsite, reintegration preparedness enables OFWs, especially women and migrant domestic workers, to build their savings, skills and livelihood options, and plan their opportune return to the Philippines;
And if they are they find themselves in exploitative situations abroad, having the option and capacity to return home enables them to remove themselves from such abusive situations;
Upon return, being able to stay for good and have the capacity to support self and family removes the pressure for OFW to re-migrate to precarious jobs abroad.
Reintegration preparedness based on rights protection, social protection, provident asset building, skills development and planned return to the Philippines lessens the risk to violence and abuse, and empowers the OFW by expanding options and opportunities. It is therefore necessary that strategies and framework on reintegration are continuously being reviewed and improved depending on evolving contexts, to respond to the needs of migrants.
The ILO, IOM, and UN Women, through the Safe and Fair Programme and the BRIDGE Programme, are collaborating with various stakeholders and development partners in developing the OFW Reintegration Advisor and Referral Pathways – a tool that can help guide OFWs and their families in getting information, determining and accessing services based on their needs and intentions for reintegration. The initiative also feeds into the National Action Plan on Sustainable, Gender-responsive Return and Reintegration.
This collaboration is timely, innovative and gender-responsive as it underpins the Philippine government’s commitment to the Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM); it also helps ensure that labour migration is safe for OFWs, especially women; and it supports access of the communities of OFWs and their families in their safe return and in navigating reintegration options, through whole-of-society, whole-of-government, gender-responsive and rights-based approaches.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made our work more challenging, but we have remained committed in our advocacy to protect and promote the rights of overseas Filipinos and OFWs. Reintegration is a phase in the migration cycle that really needs revisiting.
Our intention is to keep harmonizing our efforts towards achieving the common goal of facilitating sustainable reintegration backed by stronger national frameworks and strategies.
We hope that with your continuous support and cooperation, our current collaboration on the development of the Reintegration Strategic Framework, the National Action Plan on Reintegration, and the OFW Reintegration Advisor and Referral Pathways will contribute in strengthening the Philippine reintegration landscape.
The ILO will continue to work towards the realization of this migration agenda through its migration portfolio – the Safe and Fair Programme, BRIDGE Programme and the Ship to Shore Rights Southeast Asia Programme. In the process, we will work hand-in-hand with our tripartite and social partners in achieving the objectives of the Philippine Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP), the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS), and the Philippine commitments under the SDG and GCM.
We look forward to a fruitful consultation today as we move forward together in bringing these innovative reintegration initiatives into reality for the benefit of OFWs and their families.
Maraming salamat po (Thank you very much)!