Ex-envoy says OFWs should consider ASEAN for jobs

MANILA, Philippines – A former Philippine envoy to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said that Filipinos should consider looking for jobs within the region.

In a forum on Wednesday, February 28, Orlando Mercado, former Philippine permanent representative to the ASEAN, said that the member-states within the region have "vibrant" arrangements with the Philippines in terms of protection of workers.

"Arrangements with regards to protection of workers is in place already and the Philippines worked a lot to have that passed," Mercado said that OFWs looking for jobs should take advantage of the ASEAN integration.

Mercado also said that ASEAN countries are "closer to home," thus OFWs will find it easier to adopt to southeast Asian cultures the most.

"[OFWs] can earn money and save more money if they go to a country in the ASEAN – it's a lot better and less in terms of what they have to give up – and it's easy [for the government] to monitor and take care of our workers," he said.

"People [need] to understand that there might be more opportunities in ASEAN than going to other nations where the culture is so separate so much so that they are more predisposed to abuses," Mercado added.

However, Mercado said that the "dream" will still be that Filipinos no longer have to work in another country to earn more.

"The best thing that will happen to us – and it's our dream – that having to go to another country should be an option and not a need," he said.

During the 31st ASEAN and Related Summits, Southeast Asian leaders signed an agreement protecting migrant workers in November 2017. (READ: Pact on migrant workers' rights is PH gift to ASEAN)

The consensus is a followup document to the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers adopted in January 2007 in Cebu.

Protection on Filipino migrant workers is still a raging issue, with the labor department announcing earlier on Wednesday that it is considering banning deployment to the Middle East due to cases of maltreatment and abuses of OFWs.

In February, the Department of Labor and Employment issued a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait after the  discovery of Filipino domestic helper Joanna Demafelis' remains in a freezer in an apartment in the Gulf country.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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