The Philippines is eyeing to enhance the country’s bilateral relations with Saudi Arabia to ensure the protection of thousands of Filipino migrant workers, Malacañang said.
President Rodrigo Duterte designated Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert Borje as special envoy to Saudi Arabia to lead a delegation that will meet with officials of the Saudi Arabia Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (MHRSD), the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, and other concerned agencies.
“At the same time, the high-level delegation will also oversee repatriation missions for Filipinos affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” Malacañang said.
The President earlier sought the abolition of the kafala sponsorship system to ensure the protection of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.
The kafala system, prevalent in the Middle East, gives employers control over the mobility and legal status of foreign workers in a country. Saudi Arabia has already initiated reforms aimed at easing expatriate workers’ mobility.
In May this year, President Duterte and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen relations between the two countries.
The Saudi prince assured Duterte of the kingdom’s resolve to protect and uphold the rights of Filipino workers.
Both leaders also agreed to ramp up cooperation to address the coronavirus pandemic.