As National Migrant Workers’ Day was celebrated in the Philippines on June 7, calls went up for better protection and treatment for Filipino migrant workers.

In a commentary published by Asian Correspondent, Jeremiah Opiniano said Filipino migrant workers have been called “heroes” as the remittances they send home contribute significantly to the Philippine economy.

“As the country’s agriculture and manufacturing sectors continue to struggle, overseas migration is a search for more gainful opportunities in low-skilled work,” he said.

Opiniano said that even though the Philippine economy had been reliant on sending workers to foreign countries for decades, it has still not been able to attract enough investment to keep workers at home. He called for the Philippine government and business community to help provide jobs for the country’s workers, and urged banks to loosen their rules on extending credit to local businesses.

An estimated 10.3 million Filipino migrant workers in over 200 countries contribute to economic growth in the Philippines.

Another commentary published by Panay News said overseas Filipina workers tend to be younger than men as they leave the country at a much younger age. According to a survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority, about 7 percent of female migrant workers from the Philippines were aged between 15 and 24 while 29.5% were in the 25 to 29 years age group.

The commentary urged the Philippine government to ensure that overseas Filipino workers are well-protected in their host countries.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that there is a need for global measures to protect migrant workers as there are so many reports of acts of violence including murders and rapes of Filipino domestic workers in the Middle East, Philippine Daily Inquirer reported.

“The Philippines is unrelenting in pushing for fair and humane treatment of our overseas workers, especially our women migrant workers,” Bello said.

While noting the efforts already carried out by the Philippine government to engage with foreign countries that host Filipino workers, Bello argued the task was not yet over.

“Much remains to be done. (We need) more responsive international cooperation tools to enable governments and stakeholders to provide a safer and a more suitable migration blueprint,” he said.