THE Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III encouraged his fellow labor ministers in Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) to create measures or initiatives that will protect and promote the rights of migrant workers.

During the opening of the Asean Labor Ministers’ Retreat on Monday, February 20, Bello acknowledged the importance of Asean migrant workers for the better relationship of the Asean countries. It is therefore important, according to him, that they implement meaningful instruments for the workers.

“Our workers in their individual roles as active agents in an ever growing economic, socio-cultural and political community, give Asean integration a human face. They bring meaning to what we seek for our people-oriented and people-centered region. They give value to all the efforts that we exert in our official mandates as ministers of labor,” said Bello.

The opening of the Labor Ministries’ Retreat on Monday was attended by different labor officials from the different Asean countries. It is a start of more meetings and conferences to be held all throughout the year in the different cities in the country, to come up with better instruments to guide the migrant workers.

Bello was also glad of the progress that they had been making since Sunday.

“The progress that we have scaled on Sunday indicates that we must now aim for implementing instrument that is meaningful to the everyday lives of Asean Migrant workers. And one that can be claimed as morally binding,” he said.

“We have gained a significant stride on how to move the process forward to be able to meet the April 2017 deadline. My dear fellow ministers, we must now be of a mindset to complete our tasks to implement that declaration. Out of mutual respect, we always agree by consensus. And once a consensus is reached, we ethically bind ourselves to implement an agreed set of commitments,” Bello said.

The member states of the Asean are set to implement the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers on April 2017.

The declaration was initially declared during the Asean meet in Cebu City in 2007.

Together with other labor ministers and officials from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei, Bello officially opened the Asean Labor Ministers’ Retreat on Monday.