UN, DFA launch programme to safeguard migrant rights from recruitment to return to the Philippines

The BRIDGE programme aims to safeguard the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants throughout the migration cycle

MANILA, 16 December 2020—The United Nations (UN) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) jointly launched today a programme that aims to safeguard the rights and welfare of Filipino migrants throughout the migration cycle.

In the Philippines, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who number 2.3 million as of 2018, face challenges that start from their recruitment and deployment until their return and reintegration into the Philippines labor sector.

According to the Philippines National Migration Survey, and the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery, forced labor or involuntary work remains to be a challenge for migrants workers both for the Philippines and on a global scale.  Further, OFWs have reported difficulty to reintegrate, or to find work in the country, for a number of reasons, including the mismatch between the skills they acquired abroad and available jobs in the country when they return. Women migrants are particularly susceptible to risks of exploitation, violence and trafficking with only a small percentage of them seeking help for physical or sexual violence.

UN Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez said that “migration governance is one of the most urgent and profound tests of international cooperation in our time.” He acknowledged the Philippines as a champion of migrants’ welfare and safety but cited the Government’s admission that it needs to reinforce its implementation of the UN Global Compact for Migration (GCM), particularly the provisions on ensuring fair and ethical recruitment and the safe and dignified return of migrant workers and their effective reintegration into the Philippine labor sector.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro L. Locsin Jr, said, "I applaud the efforts of the UN Country Team in the Philippines, particularly the IOM, ILO and UN Women, for this endeavour. Among the many proposals from several countries, the BRIDGE program was one of the recipients of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund. I make special mention of Kristin Dadey - IOM's Chief of Mission - whose dedication and effectiveness is an inspiration to us all."

The GCM, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage the influx of migrants. The Philippines was an active contributor and participant to the adoption of the GCM.

Spearheaded by the UN and implemented by IOM, ILO, UN Women, DFA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Bridging Recruitment to Reintegration Migration Governance (BRIDGE) programme aims to support the Government in promoting fair and ethical recruitment, and in ensuring that returning OFWs are able to successfully reintegrate through an approach that puts them at the center, addresses challenges to women in particular, and is inclusive of all groups, including the OFW community and civil society organization.

The BRIDGE programme is also designed to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on OFWs. As of December 11,  707,186 Filipinos have returned to the country, with over 300,000 OFW returns. The BRIDGE programme seeks to equip and strengthen the approach by Government and civil society towards more effective ways of helping OFWs to secure jobs upon their return.

The BRIDGE programme seeks to equip and strengthen the approach by Government and civil society towards more effective ways of helping OFWs to secure jobs upon their return.

Aside from the GCM, the BRIDGE Programme supports the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Ambisyon Natin 2040 (long-term vision and strategies), the Sustainable Development Goals, the Philippines-UN Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development (PFSD) 2019-2023, and ongoing programmes of IOM, ILO and UN Women in the areas of recruitment and reintegration in the Philippines context.

Gonzalez said that “through the GCM, we set a moral standard for the world in upholding the rights and dignity of every migrant. The BRIDGE programme is an example of the next step that Member Countries are taking all over the world to make the Compact work for the safety and well-being of our migrant workers starting from their deployment, their lives overseas, until their return to their homes.”

The BRIDGE programme is funded by the Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF), which aims to provide financing for innovative programmes designed to support States’ migration priorities, ensure the better protection of migrants, foster cooperation, and further the promotion of migration governance that benefits all.  

The Philippines’ BRIDGE programme is one of only six that have been selected among 76 proposals submitted by 56 countries in 2020, the MPTF’s inaugural year.

The governments of Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and the UK are providing support to the BRIDGE programme. [Ends]

For more information, please contact:

Teresa Debuque

National Information Officer

United Nations Philippines

Email address: debuque@un.org;

Mobile number: 0915 061 2351

Notes to Editors:

About the Bridging Recruitment to Reintegration Migration Governance (BRIDGE) Programme

Target 10.7 of the 2030 Agenda calls to facilitate orderly, safe, and responsible migration and mobility of people, including through the implementation of planned and well-managed migration policies. Safe, orderly and regular migration is defined more comprehensively in the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration  (GCM, 2018), with its objectives serving as a blueprint for action.

BRIDGE seeks to support the GoP in achieving Objectives 8 and 21 of the GCM to facilitate regular migration, decent work and enhancing the positive development effects of human mobility. The expected long-term impact of the project is strengthened implementation of the GCM in the Philippines allows the Government to be responsive to the needs and protection of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from recruitment to reintegration. Given that challenges in adopting sustainable and gender responsive reintegration and ethical and fair recruitment practices often have multiple roots, the project will facilitate the mainstreaming of these focus areas through an integrated and multifaceted approach pertaining to three main focus areas:

  • Fair and ethical recruitment and sustainable reintegration of migrant workers are promoted through whole-of-government, society and is based on evidence.
  • Improved policies and practices pertaining to fair and ethical recruitment, and sustainable reintegration meeting international standards.
  • Improved alignment of policy and practices to GCM objectives on gender-responsive reintegration and fair and ethical recruitment.

BRIDGE’s key Government counterparts will be the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department Of Labour and Employment and its attached agencies, co-chairs of the GCM in the Philippines. BRIDGE will also engage with CSO organizations working for migrants’ interest and with OFWs.

The overall partnerships of BRIDGE will be enhanced through the UN Migration Network in the Philippines which was established in December 2019. UN Network on Migration Philippines will serve to ensure effective, timely and coordinated system-wide support to the Philippines on migration as they respond to the GCM.

Launch of the UN Migration Multi-Partner Trust Fund

Global Compact for Migration

UN Philippines

Written by
Teresa Debuque
National Information Officer
Teresa Debuque
UN entities involved in this initiative
International Labor Organization
International Organization for Migration
United Nations Resident Coordinator Office
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women