‘No basis’ to fear ‘imminent loss’ of 200,000 PH jobs if EU trade perks revoked — Bello
MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday dismissed fears raised by “doomsayers” that 200,000 Filipinos could lose their jobs if the trade perks enjoyed by the Philippines would be revoked as earlier called for by European lawmakers.
“There is no basis to fear what doomsayers describe as an imminent loss of about 200,000 jobs for our Filipino workers as a result of the possible GSP+ (Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus) withdrawal,” Bello said in a statement.
According to Bello, the Philippines has been compliant with the fundamental requirements and processes for the Philippines to continue enjoying the privileges under the GSP+.
He expressed confidence that the European Commission “will find no valid and convincing reason” to revoke such perks.
Due to “seriousness of the human-rights violations” in the Philippines, European lawmakers sought for the revocation of Manila’s benefits under the GSP+, which gives the country the privilege of exporting zero-duty merchandise to the member states of the EU.
The GSP+ scheme covers over 6,200 products from the Philippines.
In a resolution adopted by the European Parliament, the European Commission was urged to “immediately initiate the procedure which could lead to the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ preferences” in the “absence of any substantial improvement and willingness to cooperate on the part of the Philippine authorities.”
“We fared well in the country report to the European Commission which provides a scorecard of Philippine compliance with 27 international conventions,” Bello went on.
DOLE “actively participates in the process of providing updates and factual evidence, particularly on matters pertaining to the observance of labor rights,” according to Bello.
He said the Philippines is the only Southeast Asian country that ratified eight fundamental conventions with respect to labor.
These conventions, Bello noted, include the Freedom of Association and Protection on the Right to Organize Convention, Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, Forced Labor Convention, Abolition of Forced Labor Convention, Minimum Age Convention, Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, Equal Remuneration Convention, and Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention.
“Our government is doing its best to comply with all the EU GSP+ requirements in promoting the welfare of workers. Among them is the adoption of measures such as the Occupational Safety and Health Law, Expanded Maternity Benefit Leave, Anti-Age Discrimination in Employment,” Bello said.
“Our government recorded milestones in protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of our workers both locally and overseas. These are just some of the significant policies in support of the labor rights in the country and we will be relentless in this undertaking,” the labor chief added.
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