MANILA -- The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said the Bahrain government has facilitated the "regularization" of undocumented Filipino workers in the Arab state.
The initiative will allow the Philippine Embassy in Manama to purchase two-month visas to give undocumented Filipinos time to seek employment and regularize their stay.
DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, on the sidelines of the International Dialogue for Migration on Tuesday, personally welcomed the regularization initiative.
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.
She said the Gulf state also made reforms on sponsor-less work permit as well as in the legal, operational, and social aspects of domestic workers.
“These reforms are, to our mind, one of the most progressive in the countries comprising the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and give a lot of hope to countries of origin like the Philippines that widespread change in that region is coming,” Arriola said.
GCC is a political and economic alliance among six Arab states, namely Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to DFA Assistant Secretary Elmer Cato, there are around 60,000 Filipinos in Bahrain alone, with estimated 2,200 undocumented OFWs.
Arriola added that the policy reforms made by Manama “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." (PNA)