PH to pursue ‘maximum protection’ of OFWs on labor pact with Kuwait

MANILA The government will pursue strong provisions in the proposed labor pact with Kuwait to ensure that "maximum protection" covers all Filipino workers in the Gulf state, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured on Thursday.

In an exclusive interview with the Philippine News Agency , DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said there are currently "reconcilable differences" with some terms on the proposed pact but remains positive about its conclusion.

The official reiterated that the Philippines is standing its ground in hopes that a crafted deal will be a model agreement, not only with Kuwait, but with other countries.

"Negotiations are always fluid, it's up to both parties because for us, our marching order is the best protection that we can give the migrant workers," Arriola told PNA after the adjournment of the initial meeting.

The two sides held its first meeting on the negotiation for the proposed Agreement on Domestic Workers' Recruitment, Employment, and Protection Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait in Manila.

The meeting, co-chaired by Department of Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano and Ambassador Ghanim Sagr Al Ghanin, assistant minister for legal affairs of the Kuwait Foreign Ministry, aimed to reach a new labor agreement between the two countries.

The two states, still negotiating the first half of the drafted agreement, would continue talks tomorrow, March 16. Arriola said they intend to finish the discussion on the whole document on the last and second day of the meeting. After that, she said a report would be submitted to President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Despite the existing deployment ban to Kuwait, Arriola said the two countries remain "partners".

She also lauded Kuwait's gesture to come over the Philippines, sit down with the government and work on an agreement strengthening Filipino protection in their country.

We're also thankful for them for extending the two-month amnesty," she added. "So the fact that we're talking is a very good step forward."

In a similar sentiment, Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa said Kuwait's decision to craft the pact and send its representatives to come over to Manila indicates the Gulf state's willingness to resolve the issue.

The delegation that represented the Philippines in the meeting include DFA Assistant Secretaries Hjayceelyn Quintana and Jose Eduardo Malaya III, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Administrator Bernard Olalia, and Alice Visperas, director for International Labor Affairs Bureau of DOLE.

Source: Philippine News Agency