By Roy Mabasa
Senior Officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has designated a Geneva-based Filipino envoy as their candidate for the position of Deputy Director General (DDG) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva Ambassador Evan Garcia does not only have the backing of the individual ASEAN Member States, but of the ASEAN as a regional bloc, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement posted on its website.
Garcia’s designation as the regional bloc’s candidate was approved by ASEAN Senior Officials after holding deliberations on procedures for appointing a bet for the IOM post.
The Philippines has initially lobbied for this initiative during the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in September 2018 in New York in view of a need for a mechanism where ASEAN Member States can decide to support a single ASEAN candidate.
During the presentation of the candidates’ platform, Garcia assured the IOM members that the Philippines will assist the head of the organization in raising resources and execute its plans, programs, aspirations, and visions of the agency if he gets elected to the second highest post in the UN-backed agency.
Garcia, who is one of the leading candidates for the post, cited the active role of the Philippines in international migration governance, noting the presence of millions of overseas Filipinos worldwide.
“One of the reasons why the Philippines launched its bid for this candidacy is the active role of the Philippines in international migration governance given the number of overseas Filipinos,” Garcia said in his remarks.
The career Filipino diplomat suggested during the forum that IOM must work to promote inter-regional and regional cooperation to help countries in implementing the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) once requested by Member-States.
GCM is the first inter-governmentally negotiated agreement covering all dimensions of international migration. It is a non-binding document that respects states’ sovereign right to determine who enters and stays in their territory and demonstrates the commitment to international cooperation on migration.
“Migration is no longer an orphan issue – now it is seen as a legitimate, powerful and dynamic aspect of globalization,” Garcia said.
He likewise reminded the IOM that migrants are “human beings with hopes, fears and aspirations that deserve our attention and support.”
The IOM is an intergovernmental organization that provides services and advice concerning migration to governments and migrants, including internally displaced persons, refugees, and migrant workers.
If elected, Garcia will be the second Filipino to occupy the coveted DDG post of the IOM, next only to former Ambassador Narcisa “Ching” Escaler who served from September 1, 1994 to August 30, 1999.