Sri Lanka’s Minister of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare Bodiyabadigue Dilan Priyanjan Anslem Perera visited the Philippines on January 6 for a meeting with Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz to discuss matters on the management of overseas employment and contractual labor in Asia and areas, as well as mutual concerns between the member-countries of the Colombo Process (CP) and the Abu Dhabi Dialogue (ADD).
Established in 2003, the Colombo Process is the Ministerial Consultation on Overseas Employment and Contractual Labor for Countries of Origin in Asia that aims to provide a forum for Asian labor-sending countries to share experiences, lessons, and best practices on overseas employment, among others.
Sri Lanka, represented by Minister Perera, a lawyer, assumed the chairmanship of the CP, which is comprised of 11 countries of origin in Asia, in October 2013. CP members include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.
Under the chairmanship of Sri Lanka, CP aims to (1) review the international qualifications recognition process; (2) promote cheaper, faster, and safer transfer of remittances; (3) foster ethical labor recruitment practices; (4) implement effective pre-departure orientation and empowerment; and (5) promote a standard employment contract.
It is the CP that paved the way for the formation of the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, a regional consultative process, which aims to promote dialogue and partnership among countries of origin and destination in Asia, in January 2008. ADD’s membership includes all CP members, as well as the receiving countries of Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz is presently the chairman of ADD.
According to Minister Perera, who first visited the country 15 years ago, there have been many changes and improvements when it comes to overseas employment in both countries and is hopeful that his visit will usher stronger bilateral relationship between the two countries, particularly on issues about migration and development.
“My meeting with Labor Secretary Baldoz resulted to a proposed Memorandum of Understanding on labor cooperation,” said Minister Perera, who praised the country for its expertise in training individuals for diverse employment.
Labor Secretary Baldoz, meanwhile, thanked Perera for being the DOLE’s first dignitary-visitor for the year.
“While we are both developing our human resources toward positively contributing to economic and social development in our respective countries through employment in the global labor market, I appreciate that Sri Lanka is also a place of employment for some of Filipino workers,” Baldoz added.
There are currently 438 Filipinos working in Sri Lanka based on the 2012 DFA Report to Congress. Of the figure, 35 percent are professionals; five percent are involved in administrative and managerial positions; and 25 percent are agricultural workers.
Minister Perera also visited the Technical Education Skills Development Authority and the Colombo Plan Staff College in Manila. He was accompanied by Nissanka Naomal Wijerratne, Mahalingan Somasundran, Nanayakkara Kanaka Nishani Abeygunawardana who are all from the Sri Lanka Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion and Welfare, and Manisha Gunasekera, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Office in Geneva.