Ellene Sana

Director of the Centre for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) 

Active in Country: Philippines

DTP Trainer and Alumna: 2012 Migrant Workers Program - Lebanon as a participant

Ellene Sana is the Director of the Centre for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) in the Philippines. She states that what she believes is important for migrant workers is their rights, their welfare and their dignity, principles underpinning all the articles of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW).

Ellene confirms that public support for migrant workers in the Philippines is strong as almost 1 in every 10 of Filipino families has a migrant worker. However, she insists that strong policies are still needed to be implemented effectively.

The main platform that CMA uses for their policy advocacy is the national level as CMA directly engages with the Congress. A current issue that CMA is tackling is the automatic integration of the airport fee in the ticket at the point of sale (which is specifically related to Filipino migrant workers). Ellene confirms that the law in the Philippines states that migrant workers are exempted from paying this fee in the government’s adoption of Article 46 of the CMW. However, if the new directive of the airport authority make it automatically integrated, that means that ‘the migrant workers will have to pay for it and then get a refund. This is unacceptable for us as you still have to pay.’

Ellene acknowledges that as the Philippines have ratified the CMW in July 1995, it has helped Filipino migrant workers and civil society organisations (CSOs) to be more assertive in ensuring the government of the Philippines stays on task. Ellene emphasises that as the Philippines “voluntarily committed themselves to abide with the provisions of the CMW, then they really have to do it - not only in terms of signing it but also in terms of implementing it effectively the policies that will mirror this commitment in the international community.” Hence, Ellene states, it’s a constant reminder that we are a party to the CMW: “we use it [the Philippines’ ratification of CMW] as a constant reminder to our government that they really should do well in terms of promoting and protecting the rights of migrant workers and their families.”

In terms of what is next for the CMW, Ellene endorses that CMA is joining the international community in serving and celebrating the 25 years of the CMW. While Ellene confesses that there is “still a lot to do in terms of universal ratification but notwithstanding the difficulties, CSOs can use the instruments -- the provisions of the Convention to insist that both countries - that is countries of destination and countries of origin – of their obligations and responsibilities to migrant workers and their families.”


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