The bilateral labor agreement proposed in 2015 between the Philippines and Israel has yet to be signed by either country, even after a recent bilateral meeting.
Foreign Affairs Migrant Workers Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said in a press release that she and Israel Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely have instead signed another “agreement” that would serve as a “pilot” for the succeeding negotiations to other countries that also deploy caregivers to Israel.
“The meeting focused on the proposed Philippine-Israeli Bilateral Labor Agreement (BLA) and the negotiations that are currently undergoing,” Arriola said in the DFA statement.
“The signed agreement would serve as pilot agreement for the succeeding negotiations with other countries that send caregivers to Israel such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India,” it added.
Arriola’s office did not disclose when the two countries planned to sign the BLA, but said she went to Jerusalem to discuss developments in 60 years of bilateral relations.
Israel is host to about 20,000 Filipino caregivers who enjoy excellent labor conditions in the Middle East, the DFA said.
Israel’s BLAs with other countries have led to a significant reduction in the recruitment fees being charged to foreign workers in the Holy Land, the DFA noted.
Moreover, having the agreements in place has helped organize the recruitment of overseas Filipino workers and prevented cases of human trafficking.
The implementation of the BLA between the Philippines and Israel will help boost the competitiveness of Filipino caregivers in Israel.
Arriola then thanked Israel for the labor laws that protect the rights of the Filipino workers by limiting human rights violations against them.
“The Duterte administration has made the Overseas Filipinos the forefront of its foreign policy,” she said.
Since OFWs are part of a legally protected category, Israel’s BLAs are a way to boost the competitiveness of Filipino caregivers or even those working in other industries, and safeguard the interests of Filipino nationals abroad.
The addition of foreign labor in the Israeli workforce creates a balance in terms of that state’s labor needs.
The BLA contributes to cultivate a sense of identity and belonging among foreign workers through the protection of their rights, the Israeli government said.