By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has pledged to ensure the safety and protection of Korean nationals in the Philippines during his meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in here.
Moon, in turn, has promised to strengthen the protection of Filipinos living and working in South Korea.
The protection of Filipinos and Korean nationals was among the topics discussed by the two leaders during their closed-door talks at the Blue House on Monday. Duterte is in Korea for a three-day official visit aimed at enhancing economic and defense relations between the two countries.
“We also agreed to uphold welfare, safeguard and protect nationals in our countries,” Duterte said during a joint statement with Moon after their meeting.
Moon said the Philippine leader has vowed “to pay closer attention” to the protecting lives and safety of Korean nationals in the Philippines.
He also expressed thanks to Duterte for his latest assurance for the protection of Koreans, noting that Koreans are the top foreign tourists in the Philippines.
Moon also assured that the South Korean government would strengthen the protection and support for the multicultural families and migrant workers from the Philippines in Korea.
“We will actively safeguard the human rights through a variety of institutional support including counseling centers for foreign workers and multicultural family support centers,” he said.
Moon said he also hopes to see more Filipinos visiting Korea. At present, he said there are currently 93,000 Koreans living in the Philippines, while 60,000 Filipinos are living in Korea.
The latest assurance from Duterte came after a Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and killed by suspected rogue policemen inside national police headquarters, in 2016 in the guise of the anti-drug operations. The suspects, who reportedly asked for ransom from the family without telling them he was already dead, are now facing criminal charges.
Korea’s assurance, on the other hand, was made following the death of Filipino migrant worker Angelo Claveria. He was found dead inside a septic tank of a factory last April two years after he went missing.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the President thanked Korea for the prompt handling on the death of Claveria.
Apart from ensuring ample protection for Korean nationals back in the Philippines, Roque said the President also thanked South Korea for hosting Filipino workers.
Roque said the President has also welcomed ongoing talks on social security agreement, rationalizing certain visas, and implementing an improved employment system in Korea.
“He also asked that the age limit for foreign workers from 18 to 45,” Roque said.