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Overseas Filipinos remit $22 billion to families

The Khaleej Times, 16 May 2013 - The primary and most visible means through which migration has its strong impact on development for labour-sending countries is in the area of financial remittances, transfer of skills and knowledge and creation of international network of migrants that can facilitate trade and investment.

Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Philippine Secretary of Labour and Employment was giving her keynote address at the opening of the “International Conference on Labour Mobility — Enabler for Sustainable Development”, before 150 experts, representing government officials, international researchers and executives on May 14, in Abu Dhabi. The topic of discussion was cross-border movement of labour and its impact on development.


She said that in a World Bank Report, remittance flows to the developing world now totals $406 billion, increasing by 6.5 per cent over the previous year. “Around 10.4 million Filipinos overseas in more than 200 countries remit to their families $22 billion, an increase of 6.3 per cent from the previous year. Remittances sent to families back home usually help to cover daily consumption needs, which in itself contribute to the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating poverty and hunger. Remittances also enable migrant families to send their children to better schools, access health services, build decent homes, and invest in entrepreneurial pursuits and technology transfers,” she added.

Baldoz, who is also chair of the Abu Dhabi Declaration, said that beyond their economic contributions, labour mobility has promoted greater peace and security through increased people- to-people relations where migrants act as ambassadors of goodwill and help create a favourable climate for multi-culturalism.

She believed that countries of destinations that support the principle of shared human resource and shared responsibility in managing migration, help create positive experiences for migrants while working and living in the host countries. “They respect their internationally recognised human and labour rights, facilitate their fast and easy access to labour justice, including smooth repatriation, especially during crisis and emergencies, ensure faster cultural integration and assimilation, promote ethical recruitment policies and practices, foster cooperation in minimising labour exploitation and debt bondage, undertake public-private or private-private partnership on education and training for sustainability of labour supply, among many others.”

She said that the 2012 Framework of Regional Cooperation adopted by the Abu Dhabi Declaration 2 in Manila outlines many of these key challenges in the various phases of contract labour mobility cycle to optimise the development benefits and minimise the attendant social cost. “The Philippines as Chair with the UAE as Co-Chair will set up the structure and modalities to come out with priority projects to address these challenges in time for its 2014 Meeting.”

She also said that participating nations in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) have repeatedly asserted that “migration is not merely movement of people from one place to another”. That development is not simple economic growth. And, that migration that is linked to development should “advance, empower, and increase human capabilities, enlarge the scope of human choices, and create a safe and secure environment where citizens can live with dignity and equality.

“In this era of a globalised economy, labour mobility across countries and regions has become increasingly significant,” she added. “In the ASEAN, for example, as the region moves towards economic integration by 2015, countries of origin and destinations have started to address its impact on the mobility of its skilled workers and professionals. Bilateral labour agreements and regional framework agreements on worker mobility, including mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) are important mechanisms to facilitate the free flow of services and skilled labor for economic and social development. The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and MRAs in eight professional services are expected to enhance cooperation and improve competitiveness of its industries. Outside the ASEAN region, the Philippines, has a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with EU on the mobility of professionals to support negotiation of free trade agreement between Asia and Europe. The Philippines and EU have initiated efforts towards recognition of the qualifications of Filipino health professionals using the Flemish region of Belgium as the take off point.”

As a labour sending country, the Philippines pursues cooperation on various aspects of managing labour mobility and undertakes unilateral, bilateral and multi-lateral actions to optimise the benefits of international contract worker mobility and minimise its social cost. Other than regulation and protection measures, the system is strong on welfare promotion.

She concluded that mutuality of benefits derived from migration for both sending and receiving countries can only result in a wide range of unilateral, bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation for a better managed and orderly labour mobility for more inclusive and sustainable development outcomes for all.

“In this conference,” she said, “we hope that participants can compile socio-economic evidences to make visible the development impact of migration that also help create a safe and secure global migration environment, develop targets and indicators to assess the effects of migration as an enabler for development, identify models of government support and incentives towards a more productive and rewarding experiences of migrants in countries of destination, and outline in greater details areas of cooperation on the four phases of international labor mobility for sustainable and inclusive development among migrants and their communities.”


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