Duterte, Saudi crown prince discuss protection of OFWs, kafala system during phone call
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud discussed ways to further protect Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia and the changes to the kafala system during a phone conversation Wednesday night.
Malacañang said Thursday that the conversation took place when Bin Salman, who also serves as Saudi Arabia’s deputy prime minister, called the President on Wednesday.
“’Yung pag-uusap ay nakasentro kung paano mapapalakas pa ang proteksyon na ibibigay sa mga manggagawang Pilipino na nasa Saudi Arabia. Bukod doon, alam niyo itong laban natin para mabago ang kafala system na ito,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque during an online briefing.
(The discussion focused on how to strengthen the protection of Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia. Aside from that is the changes on the kafala system.)
The kafala system refers to the Middle-eastern policy governing the sponsorship of migrant workers and which had been criticized as an avenue of exploitation of foreign workers. The system requires migrant workers to have a sponsor in the country of employment to get a visa and worker’s permit.
This allows employers to control the employment and migration status of foreign workers.
Duterte earlier pushed for the “complete abolition” of the kafala system, calling it “unjust” and “exploitative.”
Meanwhile, the President and the crown prince also discussed the importance of vaccines amid the pandemic, Roque added.
In a separate statement, Malacañang said both leaders “noted the warm and friendly ties between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia and reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries.”
Duterte also thanked the Saudi Arabia government for including Filipinos in their COVID-19 vaccination program.
“Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman likewise emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral economic partnership, stating that efforts will continue to increase trade and investments by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines,” the Palace said.
“President Duterte welcomed the Crown Prince’s recognition of bolstering economic engagement as an important part of Philippines-Saudi Arabia relations that needs to be sustained,” it added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.