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Legarda Prioritizes OFW Welfare in Ushering Approval of 16 Treaties

June 10, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda has ushered the Senate’s concurrence in the ratification of sixteen (16) international agreements highlighted by the adoption of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 189 and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC), both of which strengthen the protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“In reviewing treaties and sponsoring the same for the Senate’s concurrence, our utmost concern is that these agreements will be beneficial to both the nation and our OFWs. With millions of Filipinos working in foreign nations, it is our duty to ensure that their rights and welfare are protected. The ILO Convention 189 and the Maritime Labour Convention are among the treaties that bring a multitude of benefits to our OFWs, particularly domestic workers and seafarers,” said Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The ILO Convention 189 Concerning Domestic Workers demands that there should be a contract between the domestic worker and employer that states the employee’s salary, reasonable hours of work, provision for food and shelter, weekly rest and vacation, and other terms and conditions of employment clearly understood by both parties. It also upholds their right to form or join workers’ organization and enter into collective bargaining.

The Convention also ensures that domestic workers, especially those working abroad, are able to keep in their possession their travel and identity documents.

As a sending country, the Philippines can also engage host countries that are signatories to the Treaty in an agreement that will prevent abuses and fraudulent practices in recruitment, placement, and employment of domestic workers.

Meanwhile, the MLC, considered as the seafarers’ bill of rights, consolidates and updates, in one Convention, 68 international labor standards related to the maritime sector adopted over the last 80 years.

The MLC covers basic rights such as freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; abolition of child labor; and the elimination of discrimination in employment and occupation.

It also demands employers to provide for seafarer a safe and secure workplace that complies with safety standards; fair terms of employment; decent working and living conditions on board ship; health protection, medical care, welfare measures and other forms of social protection.

This Convention covers not just the crew involved in navigating or operating the ship but also, other workers including cabin and cleaning personnel, bar staff, waiters, entertainers, singers, kitchen staff, casino personnel and estheticians—positions occupied by thousands of Filipinos in foreign vessels.

“We aim to provide better protection for our workers in the country and those working in other nations. We do not want them to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and any form of abuse. In adopting these agreements, the country is making significant strides in protecting Filipino workers,” Legarda stressed.

The Senate in the 15th Congress also approved the following treaties reported and sponsored by Legarda:

  • The Philippines-Japan Agreement on Technical Cooperation
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT)
  • Protocol Additional to the Geneva Convention, Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I)
  • The Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management to Establish the Office of the WorldFish Center in the Philippines (ICLARM)
  • Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the Philippines and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • MLAT between the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China
  • Consular Agreement with the People’s Republic of China
  • Convention on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Kingdom of Spain
  • Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Australia concerning the Status of Visiting Forces of the other State (SOVFA)
  • The Protocol Amending the Agreement between the Philippine Government and the French Republic for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income
  • The Philippines-Kuwait Treaty on the Avoidance of Double Taxation
  • The Philippines-Qatar Treaty on the Avoidance of Double Taxation
  • The Agreement between the Philippine Government and the UNESCO to establish the Southeast Asian Center for Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Development (SEA CLLSD) in the country