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20 FEBRUARY 2024 


Ladies and gentlemen, good day.

Allow me first to congratulate the Deputy Director General, Ms. Celeste Drake, on her new post at the International Labour Organization. On behalf of our principals, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique A. Manalo and Labor and Employment Secretary Bienvenido E. Laguesma, it is my pleasure and honor to join the Officials of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva, led by Ambassador Carlos D. Sorreta, in depositing the instrument of ratification of ILO Convention No. 190.

After four years of passionate advocacy and multi-stakeholder consultations spanning two presidencies, Convention 190 was finally ratified by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. last October. Senate Concurrence to the ratification was secured last December. It has been 75 years since the Philippines became a member state of the ILO in 1948. Over the years, the relationship between our country and the ILO as well as all its tripartite constituents has been marked by fruitful and productive collaboration in our common pursuit of decent work and social justice. ILO Convention 190 is the 39th Convention that the country has ratified, including nine of the fundamental Conventions and all eight of the original core Conventions. With the addition of Convention 190, thirty-two of these Conventions are currently in force.

We consider it auspicious to deposit the instrument of ratification today, 20 February 2024, as we celebrate the World Day of Social Justice. This event may look simple, but it symbolizes several policy initiatives and milestones on Labor and Employment in the Philippines has achieved particularly over the last twenty months. Starting in July 2022, the Philippines shifted to a more constructive engagement with the social partners, concerned government agencies and the ILO on long-standing issues which the government has been called upon to address relative to the application of Convention 87. A roadmap on enhancing the promotion and protection of freedom of association and the workers’ right to organize is now in place and is currently being implemented.

In March last year, the government also adopted the Social Protection Floor Framework, with the expectation of bringing about a more cohesive, inclusive, equitable, and effective social protection regime. In September, the Philippine Congress passed the Trabaho para sa Bayan Act (Jobs Act), which adopts a whole-of-nation approach in spurring job creation within the domestic economy. In October, with ILO support for which we are extremely grateful, the country’s tripartite constituents adopted the Philippine Labor and Employment Plan for 2023-2028, which is a major component of the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028. This will serve as our medium-term roadmap in promoting employment and equal opportunity and access to employment opportunities, respect for rights at work, and inclusive social protection. For the entire year of 2023, the Philippines continued its strong recovery from the pandemic with an annual average GDP growth of 5.6%, and ended the year with unemployment down to 3.8%. And shortly after the Philippine Senate gave its concurrence to Convention 190, the government was honored to accept the invitation of the Director-General to join the global coalition of social justice. The Government is looking forward to meaningfully contributing to the success of the Coalition.

Beyond the formal act of depositing the ratification instrument today are the country’s continuing and sustained efforts in demonstrating its commitment to International Labor Standards, both in law and in practice, and its solidarity with the tripartite constituents worldwide in the conviction that coordinated international and national action are critical in attaining decent work and lasting social peace and justice. In relation to Convention 190, the Philippines will not be starting from a blank slate in implementing the Convention. Many of its principles are already incorporated and operationalized in several specific national laws, such as the Labor Code, the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act, the Magna Carta of Women and more recently, the Philippine Safe Spaces Act. Nevertheless, the Philippines recognizes that as the first international instrument to institutionalize the “right to a world of work free from violence and harassment” as a specific right, Convention 190 breaks new ground in the boldness of its scope and ambition. Where it speaks of a “right in the world of work,” it transcends the traditional boundaries of physical spaces, territory and geography, of formal and informal work arrangements, of urban and rural communities, of corporate halls and households.

It embraces a world expanded by technology and at the same time brought tighter by it, And where very often men and women find their work, their family and social lives, and all other affairs of ordinary life increasingly fused and intertwined. Above all these, the Convention ultimately calls upon us to agree on a baseline of acceptable behavior that respects every worker equally as a human being who has full freedom to choose and pursue the things that society values whatever his or her status, capabilities and sector are.

For the Philippine government, we envision that there will be challenges in implementing the convention. First is the translation of the scope of the convention from the conceptual “right to a world of work free from violence and harassment,” which the convention embodies, to the operational “right to world of work” which member states should shape in relation to circumstances at the national level. The second is the enhancement of institutions to put into effect the concept, which may require adjustments in national laws and implementing mechanisms. The third is the “buy-in” from employers, which the convention identifies as primarily responsible to ensure that their workplaces, whether physical or virtual, are indeed free from violence and harassment. And fourth is the promotion, adoption, administration and enforcement of laws and programs against violence and harassment in the world of work.

As we deposit the ratification instrument of Convention 190 today, we give assurance to the ILO and our tripartite constituents that the government is prepared to address these four challenges as its priority course of action. The government employed the process of social dialogue and tripartism in mustering consensus to ratify the Convention. We will continue to use the same process in seeing to it that the Convention will be fully implemented as soon as can be reasonably possible. Thank you and I wish you all a meaningful world day of social justice.