Labor group eyes Asean help in fighting human trafficking


A LABOR group is now eyeing the intervention of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to address incidents of trafficking of migrant workers in the Philippines and its neighboring countries.

In a statement last Sunday, the Federation of Free Workers (FFW) said it will call on ASEAN member countries to collectively address incidents of modern-day slavery by engaging with the ASEAN Trade Union Council (ATUC) and the ASEAN Secretariat.

“FFW is committed to working with the government and other stakeholders to safeguard the welfare and dignity of workers in the Philippines and in the region,” FFW National Vice President Jun Mendoza Ramirez said.

FFW Vice President for Research, Advocacy and Partnerships Julius Cainglet said they are considering using the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers for their push against international human trafficking.

FFW made the pronouncement after the Philippine National Police (PNP) rescued over 919 foreigners from a cyber marketing firm linked to human trafficking at the Clark Freeport Zone last week.

Most of them are Vietnamese, Chinese and Indonesians.

FFW lauded the PNP for the successful operation shutting down the criminal network “which has preyed upon innocent workers for the traffickers’ own gain.”

“This is a significant operation and we are happy that it has led to the rescue of over a thousand young workers, primarily from other Asian nations, who were made to believe that the Philippines is a land of opportunity for stable employment and good income for their families back home,” Ramirez said.


CAINGLET stressed the importance of protecting the rights of foreigners working in the country since there are many Filipinos, who are also employed abroad.

“There is the principle of reciprocity. We should treat foreign workers in our shores the same way we want OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) to be treated in other parts of the world,” the labor leader said.

This was echoed by Department of Migrant Workers Secretary Susan V. Ople, who pointed out the country is a signatory of international agreements, which require it to protect all migrant workers.

“We are a signatory of the UN Global Compact on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the UN Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families so we are duty-bound as a government and society to protect the rights and uphold the welfare of foreign workers in our country,” Ople said.