ASCC pushes for promotion of migrant workers’ rights, role of civil service as catalyst for achieving ASEAN Vision 2025

MANILA-- The Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Pillar chaired by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is pushing for the approval of the two outcome documents which were deliberated by the ASCC ministers and their representatives from the 10 ASEAN member-countries, during the 17th ASCC Council Meeting held at the Iloilo Convention Center on March 6-9.

The 17th ASCC Council Meeting was presided by DSWD Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo, Philippines' ASCC Leader, with ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh, while Undersecretary Florita R. Villar, Philippines' SOCA Leader, together with ASEAN Deputy-Secretary General for ASCC, Mr. Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee chaired the 22nd Senior Officials Committee for the ASCC (SOCA) Meeting.

The 17th ASCC Council Meeting deliberated the ASEAN Leader's Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as Catalyst for Achieving ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASEAN Leader's Declaration on the Establishment of an ASEAN Instrument to Implement the ASEAN Declaration for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers as the two outcome documents for consideration and adoption of the ASEAN Leaders in the 30th ASEAN Summit in April.

According to Sec. Taguiwalo, "The ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on the Role of Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving ASEAN Vision 2025 will underscore the important role of the civil service for enhanced cross-sectoral and cross-pillar cooperation in ASEAN community building and in furthering regional integration in accordance with ASEAN Vision 2025."

"The ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM) from Singapore has already sent a letter addressed to the ASCC Chair endorsing the document. The outcome documents will be submitted to the ASEAN Leaders for approval during the Summit to be held this April," Sec. Taguiwalo explained.

Meanwhile, the ASCC Pillar is also pushing for the protection of migrant workers to be one of the ASEAN's outcome documents to benefit this sector. The instrument covers both documented and undocumented migrant workers.

Ten years ago, the Philippines, as chair of the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu City endorsed the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers. The declaration lays down the basic principles for safeguarding migrant workers and the obligations of both labor-receiving and sending ASEAN countries.

"The ASCC Pillar recognizes the importance of protecting the rights of migrant workers in the region. We are encouraged by the progress made by the recently concluded ASEAN Labour Ministers Retreat which agreed to adopt the instrument as a morally binding document which will be accompanied by an action plan to be developed by the ASEAN Committee on Migrant Workers (ACMW) in the future. The Chairman's Summary of the Labour Ministers Retreat also states that ASEAN Ministers have agreed that the draft instrument would cover documented migrant workers and those who become undocumented through no fault of their own," Sec. Taguiwalo expounded.

"Among the ASEAN member countries, the Philippines is one of the countries with a lot of migrant workers who would need protection. So, once this instrument is approved, we can hold on to receiving ASEAN countries that our Filipino migrant workers will be given due protection," the DSWD Chief added.

"We extend our appreciation to all ASCC ministers for their support and tireless efforts in working together to have these two important documents finalized in time for our Summit in April," Sec. Taguiwalo said.

The ASCC Ministers also acknowledged the progress of implementation of the ASCC Blueprint 2025 which consists of 109 strategic measures including cross-cutting initiatives and community-building issues.

More high-level meetings in the pipeline

After the successful ASCC launch held in Angeles City on January 24 and the recently concluded 17th Council Meeting and 22nd SOCA, the ASCC is gearing up for more high level events to be conducted this year.

In the list of commemorative activities, 19 out of the 26 activities are under the ASCC pillar.

Some of these are:

ASEAN High Level Conference on Social Protection, 18-20 August 2017

Cross Regional Meeting for Advancing the Protection of Children from Violence, 6-8 June 2017

ASEAN Conference on Nutrition and Breastfeeding + "Hakab Na" 2017, 5 August 2017

Traditional Medicine Conference - Milestone Achievements on Traditional and Complementary Medicines of ASEAN Member States, 26-27 September 2017

Way forward

The ASCC will also initiate the ASEAN-China-UNDP Symposium on Financing for Sustainable Development Growths (SDGs) implementation in ASEAN which envisions to enhance complementarities between ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With Thailand as the lead convenor for this initiative, a series of information papers will be developed, focusing on identifying overlaps, gaps and areas with complementary activities for further action.

Meanwhile, the "Culture of Preventive Agenda" initiative centers on five components namely:

Preventing violent extremism through socio-cultural policies/initiatives

Preventing violence against women and children (including migrant workers and other vulnerable groups)

Preventing crime and offending, especially among the youth

Preventing drug use and trafficking

Promoting the culture of peace, human rights and lawfulness

The Philippines hosts this year's ASEAN Summit with the theme, "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World" with six thematic priorities to achieve holistic growth, and development. These are: A people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN, Peace and stability in the region, Maritime security and cooperation, Inclusive, Innovation-led growth, ASEAN's resiliency and ASEAN: A model of regionalism, a global player.

The ASCC pillar focuses on a people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN and ASEAN's resiliency.

The ASCC Pillar is one of the three Community Councils within ASEAN which is concerned on nurturing the human, cultural and natural resources for sustained development in a harmonious and people-oriented ASEAN.

Source: Philippines Information Agency

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