The Philippines and Qatar committed to continue working together on reforms that ensure safe migration of Filipinos which can possibly be adopted by other countries.
Both countries during a meeting on the sidelines of the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) last week vowed to ensure fair recruitment and decent working conditions within both states’ recruitment corridors.
They committed to take future steps “to further ensure and safeguard decent work and migrants rights that may be adopted as well by other countries of origin and destination.”
Among the notable reforms the Philippines and Qatar committed to sustain is the reform done on the Kafala system, which helped Filipino migrant workers and the Philippines in its repatriation efforts at the height of the pandemic.
“Our countries have worked together to reform a sponsorship system and develop a migration policy to better protect migrant workers,” Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the United Nations in Geneva Evan P. Garcia said, who presided over the forum.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Paul Raymund Cortes lauded Qatar’s kafala-related reforms.
“Of course, the most notable among the many reforms of Qatar was the abolition of the Kafala system, which effectively broke the contractual bondage of migrant workers with their employers,” Cortes said.
Expatriate workers in Qatar, according to Cortes, now enjoy the increased labor mobility with the abolition of the no objection certificate (NOC) to transfer jobs on-site without having to exit Qatar first and return with a new visa for work purposes.
“The Philippines welcomes this reform, as it has relatively lessened issues/problems of Filipino workers wanting to transfer jobs without erstwhile restrictive rules to transfer sponsorship, which leaves migrant workers at the mercy of their employers,” Cortes added.
Qatar’s Ministry of Labour Undersecretary Mohammed Hassan Al Obaidly recognized the importance of the series of meetings and consultations conducted with the Philippines in assisting Qatar with labor reforms.
Cortes then stressed that the Philippines “will continue to engage Qatar on its labor reform initiatives and work the signing and subsequent implementation of a bilateral agreement to tackle human trafficking and its pernicious effects.”
He also noted that, although there are pending labor issues that have been recognized, both states are in discussion in response to these through the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding to Combat Human Trafficking.
Both sides also vowed to continue working together on the promotion of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration (GCM) and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).