The Philippines said that it was able to protect Filipino migrants from abusive practices and the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and brought justice to human trafficking victims through its rights-based and proactive enforcement of border measures.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Paul Raymund Cortes, in a statement submitted to the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) on May 17, 2022, said the government made sure that its borders were safe and open for Filipino migrants moving between their home and host countries.
He added that the Philippines recognizes the critical role of migrant workers as “key workers” in global trade and economic recovery.
“The Philippine government facilitated the repatriation of almost two million Filipinos affected by the pandemic. We established the ‘green lanes’ for seafarers, allowing crew change in Philippine ports while minimizing COVID-19 risks,” Cortes said.
Cortes told the forum that the Philippine government responded to human trafficking and assisted victims. In 2019, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to combat human trafficking.
He shared in the forum that the Philippines partnered with Bahrain to issue a work and residency permit called the “flexible visa,” which regularized Filipino migrants and shielded them from unscrupulous practices that often lead to trafficking.
Cortes likewise said that the Philippine government was able to pursue cases on trafficking, such as the two Filipinos who were abused and sexually exploited in Syria.
“Both Filipina survivors gave their statements in the Philippines, and the suspects were later on apprehended, prosecuted, and convicted abroad,” he said.
“Last year, through our cooperation with the relevant Syrian authorities, 110 Filipinos were saved from a trafficking situation and were given access to justice. This resulted in a landmark judicial victory awarded by a Syrian court in favor of victims of human trafficking,” he added while noting the vital role of collaboration between countries in protecting migrants’ rights.
The Foreign Affairs official pointed out that government-led initiatives and international collaboration are instrumental in border governance measures and serving justice to migrant workers.
The second Roundtable discussed specific objectives of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM), namely:
- Legal identity and documentation
- Saving lives
- Countering smuggling
- Eradicating trafficking
- Managing borders
- Alternatives to detention
- Dignified return and reintegration
The IMRF is the primary intergovernmental global platform to discuss and share progress on the implementation of all aspects of the GCM with the participation of all relevant stakeholders.