Gearing to take on the role as chair of a global group, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Sunday called on member states of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to ratify a 1986 instrument that amends the constitution of the global labor standards setting body.

Bello said the Philippines can show the lead by acting with dispatch in ratifying the amendment contained in the instrument adopted by the International Labour Conference in 1986.

For the amendment to take effect, the instrument has to be ratified by at least two-thirds of the 187 member states of the ILO. So far, 116 countries had ratified the 35-year amendment instrument, short by nine member states for it to enter into effect.

The amendment to the ILO charter would democratize the membership in the global labor body by giving speaking and voting rights to more member-states in the ILO Governing Body.

“I am convinced that the Philippines’ non-ratification is just a case of oversight rather than a deliberate rejection of the Amendment. We have accepted and ratified many other key ILO conventions in recent years, this is why I believe our government can act swiftly on it,” Bello said.

Just last month, the Philippines assumed the chairmanship of the Government Group of the ILO, a historic feat for the country being the first non-voting member to have been elected to the post.

Bello said a hard push for the ratification of the amendment to the ILO charter is among his top priorities in taking on the leading role in the Government Group.

The amendment increases the voting membership in the ILO and abolishes the seeming permanent status of 10 members of chief industrial countries, a preference that gives them an advantage over other member States as the latter need to get elected to have a voice and/or vote in ILO Governing Body matters. These 10 have never become observers since the birth of the ILO 102 years ago.

“This is indeed a compelling reason why the Philippines must ratify the instrument,” Bello said.

According to Labor Attaché Cheryl Daytec of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office based in Geneva, the headquarters of the ILO, “The amendment will promote full, equal and democratic participation of the ILO’s constituents in the Organization’s tripartite governance.”

In the present ILO Governing Body, only 28 States, including the ten countries of chief industrial importance, are regular or titular members with voting and speaking rights, 28 are deputy members with speaking rights, and the rest are mere observers with neither voting and speaking rights, including the Philippines.