PH lauds Bahrain for ‘regularizing’ OFW
The Philippines has lauded Bahrain for cooperating with Manila in helping hundreds of undocumented Filipinos to regularize their stay in the Gulf state.
“The Philippines welcomes the reforms made by Bahrain in their sponsor-less work permit and visa as well as the reforms in the legal, operational, and social aspects of domestic workers,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said at a side event of the International Dialogue for Migration being held in Geneva on Tuesday.
“These reforms are to our mind, one of the most progressive in the countries comprising the Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and give a lot of hope to countries of origin like the Philippines that widespread change in that region is coming,” Arriola said.
The Philippine Embassy in Manama, led by Ambassador Alfonso Ferdinand Ver, took affirmative action in the regularization of Filipino overseas workers in Bahrain.
“This regularization program is owned by and involves the government of Bahrain, the irregular migrant, and the government of the Philippines,” she said, adding the reforms now allow Manila to throw a lifeline to undocumented Filipinos who mostly do not have the means to pay for work permits and visas.
Arriola said the pathway provided for by Bahrain allows the Embassy to purchase the two-month visas so that undocumented Filipinos can seek employment and then regularize their stay.
“These we do with the hope that if this regularization pathway becomes successful, this can snowball in the rest of the GCC and can provide similar innovative pathways to many migrants in irregular status in the region,” she said.
The undersecretary noted that this policy “was a product of a step-by-step process, building block by block, setting up the pathways stone by stone, ground up”.
“My counterpart used to tell me that the Government of the Philippines is one of the most difficult countries to negotiate with because we are tough and uncompromising when it comes to the rights and welfare of our migrants,” she said.
“And to a certain extent, in our gesture of taking this leap of faith with the Government of Bahrain, it just comes to show that international cooperation is possible provided both parties come to the table in good faith and are both wiling to trust each other,” Arriola added.