CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Migrants worry compact will intensify labour export

HONG KONG (SE): Filipino migrant rights groups expressed concerns that the new United Nations (UN) Global Compact for Migration will intensify the Philippines’ labour export programme with normalised migration. The non-binding accord was signed by 164 countries at the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (CGM), held in Marrakech, Morocco from December 10 and 11. 
UN News quoted Louise Arbour, the UN Special Representative for International Migration, as saying that the compact attempts to enhance safety and order in migration management, reduce recourse to dangerous chaotic migratory routes, maximise all the benefits of human mobility and mitigate its challenges and reinforce the principle that migrants everywhere should be treated with dignity and fairness (Sunday Examiner, December 16).
However, Eman Villanueva, secretary general of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong, said the agreement does not really offer anything new to improve the lives of migrants. He believes it is another attempt by developed countries to cash in on the migration process by normalising and globalising temporary and cheap migrant workers so that they can profit from the flow of remittances.
He worried that under the agenda of “managed migration,” any form of labour migration will be temporary, so migrant workers will be contractual in nature with no residency prospects.
Furthermore, he pointed out that as the compact is not legally binding and at the same time, affirms the right of each country to determine its own migration policies basing on their specific conditions, it is nearly impossible to use the compact to question a migration policy of a state even if the policy is detrimental to migrants’ rights.
Arman Hernando of Migrante Philippines, in a statement issued by Migrante International on December 12, doubted the sincerity of the Philippine government in signing the agreement, criticising the Duterte administration for its aggressiveness in entering new labour markets like China and Russia, and pushing overseas workers to work in countries even in the absence of protective bilateral measures.
Hernando likewise raised the alarm on Duterte government’s exactions from overseas workers through various means like mandatory insurance and mandatory social security coverage, which are believed to serve as guarantees to foreign countries and investors on loans directed for his infrastructure projects. 

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