Co-Sponsorship Speech of Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva – International Labour Organization Convention No. 190 or the Convention Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (ILO C190)


December 5, 2023

Mr. President and distinguished colleagues:

It is an honor to be given the privilege to stand before you today and co-sponsor a cause close to my heart — Senate Resolution No. 877, under Committee Report No. 174, entitled “Resolution Concurring in the Ratification of International Labour Organization Convention No. 190 or the “Convention Concerning the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work (ILO C190)””.

We thank our dear colleague, Senator Imee Marcos, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations for acting swiftly on this very important piece of legislation.

Noong nakaraang naghearing po kami dito, ang ating chairperson at proud na proud ako na i-report sa inyong lahat. Hindi pa na-ra-ratify ito may 10 steps ahead na po siya sa mga dapat gawin at lalo na po sa mga evaluate natin na mga tinatawag na analysis gaps, Mr. President.

ILO Convention 190 is significant to us for a number of reasons. But please allow this representation to give the top 3 reasons in numbers: 65,136 – Riyadh; 43,225 – Kuwait; 29,049 – Malaysia. These are the recorded labor and welfare cases from January to July last year. Each number represents a Filipino migrant worker that faced maltreatment, mistreatment, contract violation, contract substitution, sexual harassment, or rape, among others. We have already emphasized these figures during the Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week but it is worth reiterating them before this august chamber to remind ourselves the impact of ILO C190 to our overseas Filipino workers.

Globally, violence and harassment has been an endemic and persistent concern. Based on the World Risk Poll 2021 by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, 1 in 5 workers (22% of women, 18% of men) have reported that they experienced some form of violence and harassment at work in their lifetime. Worse still, foreign-born women experienced violence and harassment in the workplace more than their native-born counterparts (30.2% vs 21.5%).

In the Philippines, 60% of our workers have experienced violence and harassment in the workplace. Of the women who were harassed, 13% were sexually harassed, 9% were psychologically and physically harassed, and 12% experienced all 3 forms of harassment. The Philippine Business Coalition for Women Empowerment also reported that 1 in 7 women experienced sexual harassment in the workplace at least once every week. 

Mr. President, the nature of violence and harassment in the world of work is multifaceted, and ILO C190 not only recognizes this reality but also highlights the importance of prevention, protection, and redressal mechanisms. That’s why we filed Senate Resolution No. 456earlier this year, urging the Executive Department to immediately ratify ILO C190. 

Thus, we are very glad that President Bongbong Marcos acted immediately and endorsed ILO C190 for immediate concurrence of the Senate.  Indeed, the Senate concurrence to the ratification of this Convention shows our commitment to address the comments of the 2023 report of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) regarding the numerous allegations of murders of trade unionists and anti-union violence in the Philippines and the lack of investigation into these incidents. In parallel, we also filed Senate Bill No. 560 to ease the requirement to become a union, and Senate Bill No. 741 to align the standards for the DOLE Secretary to assume jurisdiction in labor disputes with ILO standards. 

Mr. President, as we express our full support to ILO C190 today, we recognize that there is also the urgent need to align our domestic laws to our commitments under this Convention. In July 2021, DOLE’s Institute for Labor Studies presented the result of its gap analysis on ILO C190, where it identified several gaps in our policies and regulations, including the need for enforcement of legal or regulatory framework, especially for the workers in the informal economy and other vulnerable group of workers. Thus, we would also like to reiterate our call for the technical working group that will be convened by the Committee on Foreign Relations to consider our Senate Bill No. 359 or the Magna Carta of Workers in the Informal Economy (MACWIE) and Senate Bill No. 136 or the Freelancers Protection Act, among others, in the discussions.

Indeed, harmonizing our local legislation with our obligations under ILO C190 is a step towards realizing the world we envision — a world where everyone can contribute and thrive without the fear of violence or harassment; a world where dignity reigns supreme.

Let us be reminded that concurring in the ratification of this milestone treaty is not just a legal obligation but a moral imperative to ensure that no worker faces violence or harassment while simply trying to earn a livelihood.

Thank you very much and God bless us all.

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