“THE Philippines will never cease to protect its OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).”

This was the guarantee of Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople as she addressed the two-day 21st Session of the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Family held in Geneva, Switzerland.

In her closing remarks delivered Friday, March 31, 2023, Ople reaffirmed the commitment of the Philippine government to uphold international statutes protecting the rights of migrant workers.

“We underscored throughout the past two days the Philippine government’s belief that migrant workers’ rights are human rights, and that our State has both the obligation and privilege of caring for them, and for their families,” Ople said.

“The Philippines will never cease to protect its OFWs, regardless of gender, status and the skills they possess. We believe, not only as a government but as a democratic country, as a society, that migrant workers’ rights are human rights,” she added.

Proof of this, the DMW chief said, are the recent actions of the Philippine government to provide aid and relief assistance to migrant workers displaced by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as natural calamities in their host countries.

She also said the Philippine government has allocated emergency funds for migrant workers in distress, extends health care and other services for migrants and their families, and pursues an aggressive campaign against illegal recruitment and human trafficking.

Ople also cited the recent signing of bilateral agreements with Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a bid to extend greater protection for household service workers.

Ople said that the government is also aware of the need to protect and shield families, especially children left behind, from the social costs of labor migration.

“At the time of their greatest need, we are there,” Ople said.

The Philippines is one of the signatories in the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said 1.83 million Filipinos worked abroad in 2021.

Women accounted for 60.2 percent of the OFWs.

Forty percent of all OFWs in 2021 were engaged in elementary occupations, 16.5 percent in service and sales, while 13.6 percent were plant and machine operators and assemblers.

Elementary occupations are those that involve simple and routine tasks like cleaning, restocking supplies, performing basic maintenance in buildings; or handling luggage, the PSA said. (HDT / CTL)