Migrant advocate Susan Ople welcomed on Tuesday the new initiative of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost the protection of migrant workers since it will open up safer employment opportunities to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle East.
The signed ASEAN consensus document has yet to be released in public.
The Philippines and other member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are optimistic that the ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ACMW) will be implemented soon.
Prior to its signing, several groups and individuals had expressed both praises and concerns regarding the signing of the document, which had been described as the "centerpiece" of the Philippine chairmanship in this year's ASEAN Summit.
The bloc identified the protection of migrant workers' rights as one vital measure to help bring forth a secure and prosperous ASEAN community.
The ASEAN consensus is the outcome of the noble work of the ASEAN labor ministers to uphold fair treatment of migrant workers across the region, and establish cooperation in safeguarding the interests and welfare of thousands of migrant workers in the bloc.
"Foremost in that action plan should be the prevention of abuse and exploitation of ASEAN migrant workers - from passport confiscation, debt bondage, to undercutting of salaries and sexual violence as well as human trafficking", she added.
Meanwhile, migrant group Migrante International said the landmark document should be legally-binding in order to address the "lack of comprehensive legislative protection of migrant workers".
According to the World Bank, almost seven million or two-thirds of about 10 million global migrants living and working in Asean come from the region.