UNITED NATIONS, Geneva – The Philippines on Monday strongly called for global action for the protection of migrant workers.

In a statement read before the plenary session of the 107th session of the International Labor Conference here, the Philippines also brought to international attention the need for global intervention in addressing violence and harassment in the world of work, especially against women workers.

“The conference theme on ‘Women at Work’ is timely and relevant to us against the backdrop of unfortunate experiences by Filipino overseas workers the past few months,” said the statement of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III read for him by Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod.

The Philippines has drawn global focus early this year following reports of alleged deaths and abuses of Filipino women workers in the Middle East. There were reports of violent deaths and abuses, and a number of rape cases of household service workers.

“The Philippines is unrelenting in pushing for a fair and humane treatment of our overseas workers especially our women migrant workers. They are, on varying degrees, subjected to violence at work and experienced abuse and inhumane treatment,” the statement said.

It added that in addressing the problem, the government actively engaged the labor-receiving countries so as to afford the overseas Filipino workers full and equal protection of their rights and promote their welfare.

“This we do by forging bilateral labor agreements with host countries,” the statement said, adding that some 37 of those agreements had already been concluded.

“But these initiatives of the Philippine government are not enough to sufficiently protect the rights and promote the welfare of migrant Filipinos,” it added.

The statement stressed: “Much remains to be done. Among which is the need for more responsive international cooperation tools to enable governments and stakeholders to provide safer and more suitable migration blueprint.”

“It is heartbreaking to note that despite global interventions not only by the ILO but of other international organizations, we have yet to achieve gender equality at this technologically-advanced age,” it added.

The statement concluded: “We beg for answer. When will this culture of inequality end?”

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