By Gillian M. Cortez
The Philippines and Kuwait have signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) that will ensure the safety and security of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has announced on its Facebook page that DFA Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Kuwaiti Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khalid Al Hamad Al Sabah have signed the MoA that will ensure the protection and rights of Filipino employees working in Kuwait.
Filipino officials also present in Kuwait were Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre H. Bello, Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah D. Mama-o, and Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque.
Kuwait has agreed to grant repatriation of Filipino workers in the gulf state who need help. The DFA has also managed to propose a special police unit to help the Philippine Embassy and launch a hotline to assist embattled workers 24/7, both of which were approved by Kuwait.
Tension between the Philippines and Kuwait started after the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait’s efforts of rescuing distressed Filipino workers who claim that they were abused by their employers. This lead Kuwait to protest to the Philippines that this was a violation to their sovereignty. Kuwait has also declared Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa as persona non grata.
With the MoA finally signed, the deployment ban will be partially lifted, as promised by Mr. Bello during an interview with reporters earlier this week prior to flying to Kuwait. This means that only skilled workers will be allowed to work in the gulf state.
In another development, officials from the DFA and from the United Arab Emirates’s (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) reviewed bilateral relations between the two nations and “discussed priorities and developments… (as well as) pending bilateral agreements,” according to a press statement released by the DFA.
The statement said DFA Undersecretary for Policy Enrique A. Manalo and UAE Foreign Minister for Human Rights and International Law Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Jarman “noted the need to increase bilateral trade and investments” at the meeting held on Wednesday, May 9 at Abu Dhabi, UAE.
“The Philippines also sought to expand economic cooperation with UAE in the energy sector, halal industry, and Islamic finance,” the statement read.
It added: “The two officials discussed possible cooperation in addressing terrorism and violent extremism, as well as in combating human trafficking.”
Aside from committing “to continue bilateral label cooperation and to enhance people-to-people ties,” the the two officials also “agreed to push for more exchanges of high-level visits, and enhance support in multilateral frameworks.”
The meeting also saw the signing of two agreements between the nations, which are the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Sports and the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Technical Vocational Education and Training.