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Legarda: Place Human Rights and Dignity at the Core of Migrants and Refugees Global Policy

March 27, 2018

#Geneva 🇨🇭– On behalf of the 🇵🇭 delegation, I spoke at the #IPU138 General Debate today on the very important theme of “Strengthening the Global Regime for Migrants and Refugees” through evidence-based, gender-responsive and humane policy solutions. As a sending country, there are about 10 million migrant Filipinos working in practically all countries in the world. Migrants remain vulnerable, with women comprising 73.4% of all migrant domestic workers worldwide. On the other hand, the Philippines has also long been a receiving country of refugees—from the first wave of Russians fleeing persecution in 1917, the Spanish republicans fleeing at the end of the Spanish Civil war in 1939, the European Jews escaping Nazi persecution in WWII, Chinese refugees in the late 1930s, and the East Timorese refugees at the turn of the century. While there is a collective recognition over problems facing migrants and refugees, collective action is lacking. It is for this reason that the PH urged parliamentarians to pursue the Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration as a platform for collective action. Salient principles proposed by the Philippines for the Global Compact are as follows: ✔️the Global Compact should be firmly anchored on human rights ✔️ it is both a human rights and sustainable development instrument ✔️ it must adhere to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the New York Declaration ✔️migration governance is a shared responsibility of the sending, receiving and transit states ✔️our measures need to be gender-responsive and child-sensitive I proudly shared that the 🇵🇭 is the 1st country in Asia Pacific to establish a nat’l system for registering refugees & our hospitality has been recognized by the UN High Comm for Refugees. To end, I asked the body of parliamentarians to be inclusive in the way we craft laws and Int’l frameworks so that those who will be most affected by our actions and decisions are not left on the fringes of the debate and action. #migrants #refugees #parliamentarians #senateph #houseofrepresentatives

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At the 138th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland, Senator Loren Legarda today delivered a statement during the General Debate in Plenary Session, saying that global policy and action should consider and respect the rights and dignity of all migrants and refugees.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, heads the Philippine Delegation to the IPU Assembly from March 24-28, 2018.

“This Assembly of Parliamentarians can help move forward not just the commitments of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants 18 months ago, but of many other treaties and pledges to facilitate safe, orderly, and regular migration,” Legarda said.

“The movement of people, across borders, however, should never be at the expense of human dignity,” she added.

Legarda said that 3.4% of the world’s population or 258 million reside or work in countries not of their birth, while 10% of the Philippine population or 10 million Filipinos, such as doctors, scientists, nurses, engineers, architects, information technology specialists, and other skilled workers, are employed or living in other countries.

The Senator mentioned that of the total number of migrant domestic workers worldwide, women comprise 73.4%. She noted, however, that there is strong evidence that female domestic workers remain the most vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, forced labor, and violence.

“In 2015 alone, more than 36,000 overseas Filipinos sought assistance from our embassies and consulates. The Philippine government employs mass repatriation of distressed Filipinos overseas—many of them out-of-status and unemployed for years—because legal remedies are absent in their host countries,” Legarda said.

In order to spur a more collective global action, Legarda urged fellow parliamentarians to pursue a Global Compact for Safe and Orderly Migration as a platform for collective action, which will also set in place an international framework to manage migration that is acceptable by all states.

She shared that the Philippines proposes that the Global Compact must, among others, be anchored on human rights; adhere to the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and the New York Declaration; be gender-responsive and child-sensitive.

Legarda also noted that the Philippines has long been a receiving country of refugees— from the first wave of Russians fleeing persecution in 1917; the Spanish republicans fleeing the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939; the European Jews escaping Nazi persecution in World War II; the 30,000 Chinese refugees seeking safe havens in the late 1930s; more than 400,000 Indo-Chinese refugees; the East Timorese refugees at the turn of the century; just to name a few.

“It is not, however, intuition that drives us into treating refugees humanely; rather, it is the right and decent thing to do. I am also proud to say that the Philippines is the first Southeast Asian country to have established a national system for registering refugees.”

In closing, Legarda encouraged her colleagues in the Assembly to go beyond ad hoc and reactive policy measures that cater only to populist demands.

“Let us aim for sustainable solutions that address the multifaceted forms of migration challenges. In doing so, let us be inclusive in the way we craft laws and international frameworks, so that those who will be most affected by our actions and decisions are not left on the fringes of the debate and action,” Legarda concluded.