Almost seven million migrant workers employed within ASEAN member states - Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam - will be covered by the document.
Migrant advocate Susan Ople welcomed on Tuesday the new initiative of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to boost the protection of migrant workers since it will open up safer employment opportunities to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle East.
Prior to its signing, several groups and individuals had expressed both praises and concerns regarding the signing of the document, which had been described as the "centerpiece" of the Philippine chairmanship in this year's ASEAN Summit.
Among the provisions of the landmark document are: upholding fair treatment of migrant workers, granting visitation rights by family members, and prohibiting the seizure of passports.
Ople said the newly signed ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers will enable the government to offer alternative job opportunities to OFWs in the Middle East in case the political tension in the said region escalates.
The bloc identified the protection of migrant workers' rights as one vital measure to help bring forth a secure and prosperous ASEAN community.
"We in civil society appreciate the finer details and hard work that went into the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Migrant Workers".
The signing of the document is part of the activities of the regional bloc's two-day summit in Manila.
However, like all Asean agreements, the implementation of the Asean Consensus, which is legally non-binding, would be subject to the respective laws of the member countries, the statement added.
As for the workers' group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP), the agreement was a positive step towards improved working conditions for migrant workers.