Firming up the international thrusts and cooperation to protect and ensure the welfare of vulnerable migrant workers, the Philippines and the United Arab Emirates joined hands in launching a pilot project designed to administer the proper employment of overseas Filipino workers.
Labor and Employment Secretary Marianito D. Roque, and His Excellency Minister of Labour Saqr Ghobash of the UAE, launched the international initiative at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Manila, as a sideline event to the ongoing 2nd Global Forum on Migration and Development.
Roque emphasized the significance of the cooperative effort between the countries involved, in partnership with the International Labor Organization, the International Organization for Migration, and the Arab Labour Organization on the initiative dubbed as the “Pilot Project: Administration of Temporary Contractual Employment Cycle from India and the Philippines to the United Arab Emirates."
He cited the active bilateral labor cooperation between the Philippines and the UAE, which holds the distinction as the second top destination of OFWs in the Middle East, after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Roque cited that the burgeoning economy of the UAE, host to an estimated 304,241 documented overseas Filipinos. There are also some 92 Filipino community organizations and associations in the UAE actively supporting the efforts to boost and ensure the welfare of OFWs.
Roque said the Pilot Project, as conceptualized, will contribute towards the development of a multilateral framework for cooperation among Asian countries of origin and destination based on best practices in the administration of the full temporary contractual employment cycle.
“The Project is designed to address the effective administration of temporary contractual employment in a holistic manner, taking account all phases in the employment cycle from recruitment and pre-deployment of temporary contractual workers; their temporary contractual employment and residency in the host country; their preparation for returning to their country of origin; and their return and reintegration into their home communities.”
Roque added that the DOLE, the UAE Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs of India, as the main actors of the Project, together with the ILO, the IOM, and the ALO as technical advisers, will form the Project Steering Committee, with Labor Undersecretary Rosalinda D. Baldoz sitting as the Philippine focal person.
Importantly, the Labor Chief said the DOLE, together with the UAE-MOL and the MOIA, will create respective “project management teams” locally, while the UAE-MOL, as the proponent of the Project, has commissioned a group of international experts to assist with the formulation of a draft comprehensive regional framework for cooperation based on the results and lessons learned form the project.
Initially, the direct beneficiaries of the Project are a number of temporary overseas contractual workers from the Philippines and India on the construction, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. The Project will run for a period of 24 months starting in November 2008 and ending in 2010.
Roque, in behalf of the Philippine government, expressed appreciation to the UAE, as well as India, the ILO, IOM and ALO, for realizing and putting into effective motion the joint initiative.