ASEAN leaders sign landmark pact on protection of migrant workers as 31st ASEAN Summit draws to a close

(Eagle News) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed on Tuesday a landmark agreement that  will ensure the protection of migrant workers in the region, a pact President Rodrigo Duterte, this year’s ASEAN chair, said was the fulfillment of a promise to ASEAN peoples.

The signing ceremony of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers was held, as the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits drew to a close.

After signing the pact that is a followup to the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers adopted in January 2007 in Cebu,  Duterte handed over the document to ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.

The pact includes provisions on the prohibition against confiscation of passports and overcharging of placement or recruitment fees, visitation rights by family members, right to fair and appropriate remuneration benefits and their right to join trade unions and association, protection against violence and sexual harassment in the workplace, and the regulation of recruiters for better protection of workers, among others.

Migrante International, a militant organization that protects the rights of workers, said since 2009, there was an impasse in the drafting of the agreement because those concerned failed to agree on provisions, especially on the nature of the document.

Indonesia and the Philippines had wanted the document to be legally binding, others like Malaysia did not.

The signing of the agreement was considered the “centerpiece” of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the regional bloc.

“This historic governmental token is our promise to our people to strengthen social protection, access to justice…,” Duterte said in his speech.