ILO, Quezon City partner for first migrant workers' one-stop shop in Metro Manila

The ILO and the local government of Quezon City collaborate for a gender-responsive Migrant Worker Resource Centre, the first in Metro Manila operated by the local government in collaboration with civil society, Overseas Filipino Workers/family organizations, and international development partners to serve OFWs and their families, and improve migration and development.

Press release | Quezon City, Philippines | 22 August 2022
QUEZON CITY, PHILIPPINES (ILO News) - The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Quezon City government sign an agreement to boost the city’s migration and development governance, programme implementation and service delivery. It includes the establishment of a gender-responsive Migrant Worker Resource Centre (MRC) that will be the first-ever one-stop centre for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families in the National Capital Region operated by the local government in collaboration with civil society, OFW or family organizations and international development partners.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte says she is optimistic that the city will have a comprehensive and sustainable migration and development programme. Photo by the Local government of Quezon City.
“We will honour our OFWs by taking action and leading them to a future where they will be met with a positive, profitable, and successful cross-border journey,” said Mayor Joy Belmonte, adding that she is optimistic that the city government will be able to develop a comprehensive and sustainable Migration and Development Programme that maximizes the gains of migration and reducing its social costs.

Mr Selva Ramachandran, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Philippines Resident Representative and ad interim Resident Coordinator of the United Nations Philippines further added, “Migration is a fact of life but UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that we must do more to better protect migrants. We must expand and diversify rights-based pathways for migration – to advance the SDGs and address labour market shortages. Returns and re-admissions must be safe, dignified and in full accordance with international law.”

The MRC will bring under one roof various migration programmes and services from Quezon City and other partners. The centre will provide support to migrant workers and their families through OFW help desks, and in the form of gender-sensitive protection services, community outreach, accurate and relevant information on migration, pre and post-employment consultations, psychosocial counselling services, case handling and legal aid services, various trainings for prospective QC migrant workers and their families and reintegration services for those returning.

The signing also commemorated the birth of the city's founder, Former President Manuel Quezon, an advocate for peasants and workers.

Part of the MRC support is funded by the European Union through the Safe and Fair Programme: Realizing women migrant workers’ rights and opportunities in the ASEAN region. The global EU-UN Spotlight Initiative is a 500-million-euro EU-UN partnership programme to end violence against women and girls.

(left-right) ILO Director Khalid Hassan, EU Ambassador Luc Véron and EU Head of Cooperation Christoph Wagner from the Delegation of the EU to the Philippines.
H.E. Ambassador Luc Véron of the European Union stated at the signing event: “the cooperation between Quezon City, the ILO and the European Union is an important one: we join forces to protect and promote the rights of female migrant workers, to promote safe spaces and keep migrant workers free from all forms of violence. Labour migration can and should be safe and fair for all Filipinas!”

Safe and Fair is implemented in the ASEAN region, led by the ILO with UN Women and in collaboration with UNODC. The ILO-UN Women-IOM BRIDGE Programme also contributed to the initiative, which is supported by the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) to help the government meet its Global Compact for Migration commitments.

The city’s Public Employment Service Office (PESO) will implement the agreements laid out in the partnership in collaboration with the ILO, with support from UN Women and IOM through the Safe and Fair and BRIDGE Programmes.

ILO Director Khalid Hassan cites the MRC as a milestone. Photo by the Local government of Quezon City
Mr Khalid Hassan, Director of the ILO Country Office for the Philippines in his statement said that establishing the Migrant Worker Resource Centre is a landmark step for OFWs, as Quezon City is recognized as one of the top places of origin for OFWs. He further shares, “We affirm the technical partnership with Quezon City on MRC on the following components: improving gender-responsive service delivery and coordination mechanisms; enhancing local data collection and management; capacity-building for migration stakeholders including service providers, OFWs, families, communities, OFW groups and network); strengthening migrant groups and networks; and increasing public awareness on labour migration and MRC.”

Safe and Fair’s good practices and MRC operations standards, including the 16 Essentials for Quality Multisectoral Service Provision to Women Migrant Workers Subject to Violence (2019) and the Coordinated Quality Services for Ending Violence against Women Migrant Workers (2020), will guide the MRC.

The partnership will further support OFW reintegration and skills development opportunities for OFWs and their families, especially women and domestic workers. The Reintegration Advisor and Referral Pathways will help improve the operational framework of reintegration support services. The partnership will also strengthen ongoing organizing, networking and capacity building of OFWs and families in Quezon City to promote their meaningful participation as stakeholders in migration governance and programmes.

The partnership emphasizes women's voice, choice, and agency because of the vital role they play as healthcare workers, caregivers, and domestic workers, especially during the pandemic "UN Women welcomes this partnership and is pleased to see that the local government of Quezon City recognizes the importance of having a safe haven for migrants and their families, particularly women migrant workers who face a higher risk of violence and discrimination. As a compliment to this physical haven, ILO-UN Women’s Babaeng Biyahero Campaign supported by our Safe and Fair Programme will be able to offer a platform for these women migrants to share empowering stories and support fellow migrants throughout their migration journey," shares Ms Rosalyn Mesina, Country Programme Coordinator, UN Women Philippine Programme Office.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, there are over 1.77 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) abroad as of 2020. Almost 60 per cent of whom are women. More than 75 per cent of OFWs abroad work in lower-paid, more precarious jobs like domestic work, clerical, sales, services or factory/manufacturing jobs. Women dominate precarious jobs. The National Capital Region is among the top 5 OFW origins.

This vast number of migrant workers face various challenges at all stages of their migration journey. Vulnerabilities, challenges, and cases of labour exploitation and violations, including gender-based violence, are still prevalent, but not uniform – women are more adversely impacted, especially during public crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.