DOLE chief pinpoints 35-year-old labor 'oversight' of PH

Fixing a 35-year-old "oversight" of the country in the International labor scene is among the top priorities of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III during his year-long stint as chairman of the International Labor Organization's (ILO) Government Group.

(Mark Balmores/ File photo/ MANILA BULLETIN)

This was bared in a statement Sunday, August 1 by Bello, who called on ILO member-countries to ratify a 1986 instrument that amends the constitution of the global labor standards-setting body.

However, the DOLE chief quickly acknowledged that the Philippines was among the states that have yet to sign the important document.

“I am convinced that the Philippines’ non-ratification is just a case of oversight rather than a deliberate rejection of the Amendment. We have accepted and ratified many other key ILO conventions in recent years, this is why I believe our government can act swiftly on it,” reckoned Bello.

It was only last month when the Philippines assumed the chairmanship of the Government Group of the ILO, a historic feat for the country considering that it is the fifirst non-voting member to have been elected to the post.

Bello, who will take on the actual chairmanship duties by virtue of his being the Philippine labor chief, is eyeing a hard push for the ratification of the amendment to the ILO charter as one of his top priorities under his new role.

For the amendment to take effect, the instrument has to be ratified by at least two-thirds of the 187 member states of the ILO. So far, 116 countries had ratified the 35-year amendment instrument, short by nine member states for it to enter into effect.

The amendment to the ILO charter is expected to democratize the membership in the global labor body by giving speaking and voting rights to more member-states in the ILO Governing Body.

The amendment increases the voting membership in the ILO and abolishes the seeming permanent status of 10 members of chief industrial countries, a preference that gives them an advantage over other member-states as the latter need to get elected to have a voice and/or vote in ILO Governing Body matters.

These 10 members have never become observers since the birth of the ILO 102 years ago. “This is indeed a compelling reason why the Philippines must ratify the instrument,” Bello said.

According to Labor Attache Cheryl Daytec of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) based in Geneva, the headquarters of the ILO, “The amendment will promote full, equal and democratic participation of the ILO’s constituents in the Organization’s tripartite governance.”

In the present ILO Governing Body, only 28 States, including the 10 countries of chief industrial importance, are regular or titular members with voting and speaking rights; 28 are deputy members with speaking rights, and the rest are mere observers with neither voting and speaking rights, including the Philippines.