PRESS RELEASE                                                                       
Department of Foreign Affairs
2330 Roxas Blvd., Pasay City, Philippines                        *      Tel. No. 834-4000                                 *

SFA-DDA-341-04                                                                                                                                28 May  2004


Seoul, 28 May 2004 – The Philippine government will continue to look after the interests of Filipino nationals in Korea and will work closely with the host government to ensure the promotion and protection of their welfare.

This was the message conveyed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Delia Domingo  Albert to the leaders of various Filipino community organizations during a meeting held today at the Diplomatic Center in downtown Seoul.

“I came to Korea to attend the 2004 Global Summit of Women, where I co- chaired yesterday a meeting of women ministers and women entrepreneurs. As in my visits to other countries, I requested for a dialogue with the Filipino  community in order that I can be apprised of your concerns as fellow Filipinos in a foreign land,” Secretary Albert told her audience.

The Secretary informed the community leaders that she is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon in the afternoon to discuss a number of issues affecting the two countries.

“This meeting will provide me with the opportunity to identify with my counterpart the areas where the Philippines and Korea can engage in mutually beneficial activities. It is also my intention to discuss efforts to ensure the protection and welfare of our overseas workers,” she said.
The Secretary was informed that, despite the recent passage of the Work Permit Law and the implementation of the alien registration program for the work permit system, which was availed of by 32,000 Filipinos working in Korea, some 9,000 Filipino workers have remained undocumented.

Secretary Albert assured the Filipino community leaders that the Philippine government will continue to make appropriate representations to ensure that overstaying Filipinos in Korea will be allowed to go home without penalty.  She reminded them, however, that they should also do their part “to encourage their fellow Filipinos to abide by the laws of the host country.”

Following the Secretary’s remarks, a number of concerns were raised in the ensuing Q & A forum. Foremost among these is the issue of the alleged illegal recruitment of Filipino entertainers by Korean promoters.

Secretary Albert informed the community leaders that she has instructed the Philippine Embassy in Seoul to assist in addressing the problem.

“I have given specific instructions for our Embassy personnel to take action on this issue. Trafficking in women is a serious offense, which only results in the exploitation of our female workers. I wish to assure you that officials of the Philippine government represented in the Embassy in Seoul are coordinating closely with the host country to ensure that this illegal activity will be curtailed and eventually stopped,” said the Secretary.

She informed them of the two laws signed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that would make trafficking of women and children as well as violence on women and their children criminal acts punishable under the law. She also conveyed that she had taken both concerns to the attention of the UN Commission on Human Rights, especially as they relate to Filipino women migrant workers. END.