OFW Welfare and Protection
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) has been the Philippine government’s primary concern in its relations with Middle East countries. In Saudi Arabia our Philippine Mission focuses more on Filipino expatriate’s welfare and protection considering the fact that large numbers of Overseas Filipino Workers are employed in this oil rich region.
As a community partner of our Philippine Embassy, I am aware that diplomatic talks in these regards between our Philippine Labor Office and Saudi Labor Ministry are one of the many agendas in progress. Hopefully these may lead into an understanding of possible well-implemented bilateral labor agreements.
What the Saudi government is requesting is when the contract is violated; the Filipino worker should present his complaint before the concerned agencies in the Saudi labor offices before he/she leaves the Kingdom. In this process, both sides can be heard and when there is a violation committed by the employer an appropriate compensation based on a given decision will be dispensed accordingly. Complaints raised by the Filipino workers to POEA after coming from the Kingdom will not give the chance for the Saudi employer to defend himself. If a breach of contract is found then any reward may not be properly handed to the aggrieved party.
Saudi authorities is also asking the Filipino community to respect the laws, customs and traditions of the country and not to get involved in any criminal activities, like engage in dealing illicit trafficking of illegal drugs and alcoholic beverages. So with other related crimes that may result into harsh punishment even death. Other areas of concerns such as alleged maltreatment and abuse of our Filipina domestic Helpers are issues that are being discussed between the two countries for a better RP-KSA relationship.
Trade and investments
We are all aware that Welfare and Protection for our OFWs are not the only paramount interest of our Philippine Mission in the Kingdom. The area of Trade and Investment is very essential as part of their diplomatic responsibility. Trade and Investment has always been the major force behind the economic relations among nations.
During last year’s meeting of Pres. Gloria Arroyo and members of Saudi chambers of commerce and industry and the council of Philippine-Saudi businessmen, she encouraged Saudi businessmen to invest in the Philippines in different industrial sectors especially in Mindanao. Saudi businessmen welcomed the idea of investing in our country. Philippine Commercial Attache was formally re-introduced for the mentioned purpose.
Mindanao is not only the home of our Muslim brothers and sisters but the country’s main agricultural export zone that currently brings tuna, pineapple, rattan furniture and fresh bananas to Saudi Arabia. The Philippine furniture alone proved its competitiveness in the world market in quality and design and the Saudi businessmen wants to purchase directly from our country than buying furniture from America that are originally manufactured in the Philippines.
Just yesterday, Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Antonio Villamor made an appeal to community leaders to support and assist in promoting to potential participants in the establishments, companies or institutions OFWs are connected with, in the upcoming October 17 to 20, 2007 International trade fair in Manila initiated by Manila FAME International.
Manila Fame International is organized by the Center for International Trade Expositions (CITEM), an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry. You can visit their web site at www.manilafame.com.
Let us-all help endorsing Philippine export products that would further enhance strategic RP-Saudi relations in Trade and Investments. – END by: BongA.