MANAMA - Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto R. Yasay, Jr. conducted a town hall meeting with over 200 Filipino Community leaders and members in Bahrain at the Our Lady of Arabia Auditorium of the Sacred Heart Church in Manama during his short visit to the Kingdom of Bahrain on January 24.

The Philippine Embassy in Manama organized the town hall meeting.

Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain Alfonso A. Ver welcomed the members of the Filipino community and introduced the Secretary.

In his keynote address, Secretary Yasay expressed his profound gratitude to Bahrain's Royal Family led by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, His Royal Highness Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa for their warm welcome during his brief visit.

He expressed his gratitude to the Kingdom's for opening its doors to thousands of Filipinos in Bahrain and their recognition of the role of Filipinos in Bahrain's nation-building process.

Secretary Yasay shared that the President recognizes the invaluable contribution of overseas Filipinos to the country's economy, and assured the audience that the Duterte Administration prioritizes the concerns of the overseas Filipinos.

He shared that the President launched in 2016 a "one-stop shop for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)" which gathers representatives from agencies offering services that are relevant to OFWs, as well as, the approval of the establishment of a bank primarily dedicated to OFWs.

Secretary Yasay stressed that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is working on the streamlining of procedures and requirements to ease the process of obtaining passports and other travel documents especially for OFWs.

He also mentioned that the DFA is committed to improving the online appointment system and in shortening the waiting time for passport release. He further informed the audience that a bill is pending in the Philippine Congress, seeking to lengthen the validity period of Philippine passports from five to ten years.

Secretary Yasay briefed the audience on the Duterte Administration's fight against illegal drugs. He emphasized that the President values human rights and condemns extra-judicial killings (EJKs). He assured the audience that there are no state-sponsored EJKs.

He also affirmed the Philippine Government's commitment to the peaceful settlement of conflicting claims in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), and in accordance with International Law, such as the UNCLOS.

He further revealed that the President plans to visit the Kingdom of Bahrain soon. END

Source: Republic of Philippines Department Of Foreign Affairs