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May 2000, Volume 7, Number 5

Philippines: Overseas Filipinos

Philippine President Joseph Estrada has ordered a far more aggressive effort to protect the rights of Filipinos based abroad, in part by joining a 21-nation network that monitors human trafficking. The Department of Foreign Affairs was ordered to prosecute violators of migrants' human rights abroad— the government said that there are seven million Filipinos abroad, including two million who are unauthorized.

Some 607 Filipino migrants died abroad in 1999. Most died of natural causes, but 16 were murdered and 14 reportedly committed suicide.

Estrada declared 2000 to be the Year of the Overseas Filipino Workers. The Department of Labor and Employment has proposed amendments to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 that would state explicitly that overseas employment of both skilled and unskilled workers is a means to sustain economic growth and achieve national development.

Filipino Immigration Commissioner Rufus Rodriquez urged the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to strengthen cooperation on anti-trafficking, especially of women and children.

"Estrada Orders Stronger Protection for Overseas Filipinos," Xinhua News Service, April 7, 2000.