President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud talked about the rights of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and the kafala system during a phone call on Wednesday night, Malacañang said.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Thursday the two leaders discussed ways to protect Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia and the changes to the kafala, the Middle-Eastern policy governing the
sponsorship of migrant workers, 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.
“The conversation took place when Bin Salman, who also serves as Saudi Arabia’s deputy prime minister, called the President on Wednesday,” Roque said.
In a separate statement, the Office of the President said the Saudi Prince assured the President that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will protect all Filipino workers there.
Duterte recognized Saudi Arabia’s efforts to ensure that the rights, welfare, and well-being of Filipinos in the Kingdom are protected and upheld, including recent efforts aimed at labor reform, the Palace said.
“Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman assured President Duterte that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is fully resolved to do its part in protecting and upholding the rights of Filipino workers in the Kingdom,” the OP’s statement read.
Also, 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 likewise thanked the Saudi Arabia government for including Filipinos in their COVID-19 vaccination program.
The Crown Prince emphasized the importance of strengthening bilateral economic partnership, stating that efforts will continue to increase trade and investments by the Kingdom in the Philippines.
Duterte welcomed the Crown Prince’s recognition of bolstering economic engagement as an important part of the two countries’ relations that needs to be sustained.