Foreign affairs officials on Wednesday thanked Bahrain for being a “leader in the region” in protecting migrant workers, including many overseas Filipino workers (OFW).
Undersecretary Robert Eric Borje, Special Envoy of the President and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs, cited Bahrain’s reforms including its Flexi Visa System, which allows a pathway to regular immigration status without an employer-sponsor.
According to Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain Alfonso Ver, about 1,075 persons have availed of Bahrain’s amnesty program.
Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola also thanked Bahrain for giving Filipinos “a second chance” in migration.
“This is the product of the Global Compact of Migration so that there will be pathways as part of objectifying the global compact,” Arriola said in a virtual presser.
He cited the Philippine government’s decision to spend and help regularize Filipino citizens by paying for their visas and their first two months worth of fees for their flexi visa.
“They felt that they were free, they felt that have been empowered and they felt that there is a second chance in migration. So we are very proud of this and we thank the government of Bahrain for providing this avenue to be able to give a better life to migrants,” Arriola said.
Arriola also credited Bahrain for starting the “wave” of labor reforms by abolishing exit visas.
Borje led a Philippine delegation to Bahrain for an official visit from December 28 to 31, where he conveyed President Rodrigo Duterte’s gratitude to Bahrain for taking care of the welfare of overseas Filipinos living and working in the kingdom.
Duterte likewise recognized Bahrain’s “leadership and contributions to regional and global efforts to uphold the rights of migrant workers.”
“It’s an indication of what my President says is the ‘partnership of brothers’ between the Philippines and Bahrain on the protection and promotion of migrant workers,” Borje said.
Joining the Philippine delegation are Arriola and Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary for Global Media and Public Affairs JV Arcena.
When the delegation returns home to Manila on December 31, Borje said it will be bringing with them around 300 overseas Filipinos from Manama, Abu Dhabi and Dubai home as part of government efforts to repatriate Filipinos.
As of December 30, the Philippines has repatriated around 323,436 Filipinos since the pandemic started through 59 chartered flights and 1,200 commercial flights.
Meanwhile, Ver shared the Filipinos’ feeling of safety in Bahrain amid the pandemic with the government providing a number of benefits, including COVID-19 testing. Ver said he has availed of vaccination.
“Ako I have been tested here 6 times, you just call a number and you get tested and even vaccination. Na-vaccinate na rin ako. I just registered through an online app and there’s even a choice kung ano ang gusto mong vaccine. In just two minutes, tapos. So mga Filipinos here they are safe but of course, mayroon ding nangangailangan. At kung kailangan mo, we are all ready to bring you home,” Ver said.
Bahrain approved registration for Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine. — via Sean Tyler Chan / AdChoiceTV News