Labor officials of member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Davao City, the Philippines, are optimistic that the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) will be implemented soon.

“A decade after signing the declaration, we hope to bring it closer into full circle here in Davao and also fulfill the April 2017 Leaders Summit deadline for the development of the Instrument to implement it,” said Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III in his opening statement at the ASEAN Ministers’ Retreat in Davao City on Monday.

He added, “I have received word that yesterday (Sunday), through a show of good will and a very open yet frank discussion, we have achieved a breakthrough on the principle issues of the instrument. We have gained a significant stride on how to move the process forward to be able to meet the April 2017 deadline.”

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At the same time, the DOLE chief acknowledged the participants for working together in coming up with a solid action for migrant workers in the region and for the realization of the instrument.

“Fellow Ministers, we must now be of a mindset to complete our task to implement the Declaration. Out of mutual respect, we always agree by consensus. And once a consensus is reached, we ethically bind ourselves to implement an agreed set of commitments,” said Bello.

“The progress that we have scaled yesterday (Sunday) indicates that we must now aim for an implementing instrument that is meaningful to the everyday lives of ASEAN migrant workers and one that can be claimed as morally-binding,” he furthered.

On Sunday, Senior Labor Officials have gathered and discussed the issue of the nature of the ASEAN Instrument on Migrant Workers, and the principle issue of Rights of Undocumented Workers.

Likewise, they had a dialogue on the principle issue of Fundamental Rights of Family members of Migrant Workers and the proposal of the Philippines of an ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration adopting the already agreed provisions and articles.

Bello noted that the ACMW is for all workers overseas who represents their respective nations by doing their best in their fields of endeavors.

“Our workers, in their individual roles as active agents in an ever-growing economic, socio-cultural and political community, give ASEAN integration a human face. They bring meaning to what we seek for as a people-oriented and people-centered region. They give value to all the efforts that we exert in our official mandates as ministers of labor,” he said.

Bello added, “Beyond our humble means as individual countries, what is important is that we are coming up together with something that has great potentials: a meaningful guide, an instrument of change that is a product of our consensus and years of consultation. This will be a living document which will be continuously improved in future meetings.”

He also assured the participants that their efforts in coming up with the instrument are deeply appreciated and will be remembered for giving much importance to migrant workers in the region.

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“On the part of the Philippines, we wish to assure all of you of our highest regard in the roles that you have assumed to bring this instrument closer to its realization. With the support that you have extended to our process, we are all making history together. You will be remembered in history as champions of ASEAN migrant workers,” he said.

The Declaration was signed on Jan. 13, 2007 during the 12th ASEAN Summit held in Cebu. – with Philippine News Agency.