Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today said the issues of human traffickiing, drug and cross-border crimes, and the globalized employment market are taken seriously “because they relate directly to the core of our efforts to raise the quality of life and the very future of our labor-supplying nation.”
“Human trafficking and human smuggling or illegal recruitment flourish in part because destination countries do not complement the efforts of labor-sending countries at combating these twin evils in labor migration. because destination countries do not complement the efforts of labor-sending countries at combating these twin evils in labor migration,” Binay told international lawyers during the 23rd Conference of the Presidents of Law Associations in Asia (POLA) held in Pasay City.
“They also lack a strong legal mechanism to underwrite recruitment or labor policy that keeps to human rights standards as defined in the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families, the International Bills of Rights and related international instruments.”
The Vice President cited reports made by the International Labor Organization that a large number of migrant workers from Asia were working illegally, especially in the Arab region.
“A report on Asian women’s labor migration mentions cases of abuse against domestics, including long working hours, no days off, restriction on freedom of movement and association, lack of pay, and physical and sexual violations.”
According to Binay, to prevent abuses on migrant workers, labor-exporting countries such as the Philippines “must exert every effort to secure the best possible deal for their overseas workers within a bilateral rather than a multilateral framework.”
The Vice President proposed this measure, citing the fact that despite the presence of international laws and other instruments promoting migrant laborers’ rights, their enforcement is optional for destination countries.
“The ILO has put forward a framework for a rights-based approach in labor migration, delineating obligations between the country of origin and the country of destination in the enforcement of the rights of overseas workers. Pushing for its adoption as a convention is the shared responsibility of every country,” Binay said.
“But even if it becomes a binding form of international law, like similar instruments, its enforcement remains an option for host countries,” he added.
He also pointed out that due to the differences in the social milieus and economic circumstances between labor-sending and host countries, more advanced countries can dictate the “rules of the game”, especially in sourcing cheap foreign labor to service their own citizens.
Binay noted, however, that the Internet has been able to unite the issues of human traffickiing, drug and cross-border crimes, and the globalized employment market with corporate social responsibility, globalization, and the legal profession.
“It is the fact that the role of the legal profession is being rewritten in this age of the Internet, where transparency and accountability are once again the norms upon which human society and our systems of law and order are being built and fortified,” said the Vice President.
He added that people from the grassroots are now being heard through technology and social media, which gave rise to phenomena such as the Arab Spring and other social movements across the world.
Binay also said that more will be expected of the POLA given its role in encouraging a greater commitment to public interest advocacy, calling attention to human rights violations, and raising awareness of the responsibilities of the legal profession.