MANILA – The Philippines is eyeing a bilateral agreement with Haiti to give further protection to the more than 350 Filipinos working in the country.
"The Philippine Government has a strong desire for a bilateral labor agreement to be concluded at the earliest possible time to enable more of our nationals to help in building Haiti's economy under the protection of the law," Ambassador Jose Cuisia said in his meetings with President Martelly and Foreign Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir as he presented his credentials as Manila's non-resident envoy to Haiti on March 14.
After the meeting, Cuisia also met with Filipino community leaders. Most of the Filipinos there hold supervisory or managerial positions.
He then went to pay a visit to the headquarters of the 17th Philippine Contingent to Haiti which is serving as the Force Headquarters Support Unit for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
The 157-strong unit made up of officers and sailors from the Philippine Navy is headed by Capt. Luzviminda Camacho, the first woman to command a national peacekeeping contingent.
In his remarks, the ambassador commended the Philippine Contingent for helping keep the peace in Haiti since it was first deployed there in 2005.
"I am proud of the work that you have done," he said. "The sacrifices of Filipino peacekeepers represent the enduring commitment of the Philippines to work with key actors to ensure peace and stability in the international community".
Four Filipino peacekeepers have lost their lives while serving in Haiti. The first, Sgt. Antonio Batomalaque of the 1st Philippine Contingent was killed in a gun battle with gang members in 2005 while three members of the 10th Philippine Contingent died in the earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in 2010.