MANILA — The Philippines has called for the affirmation of human rights of migrants in its general statement in the Asia-Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting (RPM) for the Global Compact on Safe, Regular and Orderly Migration (GCM) in Bangkok, Thailand.
In a unanimous election on Monday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola was selected chairperson for the three-day regional consultative meeting held in Nov. 6 to run until Nov. 8. Along with her is the Philippine delegation’s co-leader, Labor and Employment Undersecretary Bernard Olalia.
Speaking for the country, Olalia stressed the GCM should contain the “affirmation of the human rights of all migrants,” regardless of their immigration status. “Migrants should be empowered and seen as agents of development,” he said.
The Asia-Pacific RPM is one of the regional consultation meetings called for by the 2016 New York Declaration on large movement of migrants and refugees.
Its outcome would feed into the stocktaking meeting of the GCM process scheduled from Dec. 4 to 6 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The stocktaking meeting is expected to produce the first draft GCM, the DFA said.
Arriola said the Philippine inter-agency delegation is pursuing the mandate of President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration “to maximize all avenues and forums where the rights, interests and welfare of overseas Filipino workers could be advanced.”
As chair of the regional meeting, Arriola also noted that Manila is committed to help mobilize and consolidate the inputs of the entire Asia-Pacific region for the GCM stock-taking meeting in Mexico.
The RPM is organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the development arm of the UN in the region, which accounts for 102 million international migrants.
According to UNESCAP, remittances of migrants in the region are estimated to reach USD276 billion this year. It said one fourth of the GDP of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Nepal are derived from remittances of their international migrants.
The Bangkok-based UNESCAP, established in 1947, made up of 53 Member States and nine associate members, is the largest UN body serving the Asia-Pacific.
Ambassador Evan Garcia, permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva said the election of Arriola is an “affirmation of the leadership of the Philippines on international migration governance in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Meanwhile, Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano welcomed the official’s election as the meeting’s head, saying “this bodes well for our advocacy for the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare of Filipino migrants.”