MANILA - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday he believes that countries in the Middle East still practicing the kafala system would grant President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for the complete abolition of the practice.
“Matagal na naming hinihiling 'yan na sana hintuin na nila ang kafala system na 'yan. With the appeal coming from no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, palagay ko hindi na makakatanggi 'yung ibang mga bansa nasa loob ng Middle East,” Bello said.
(We’ve been asking for a halt of the kafala system for a long time. With the appeal coming from no less than the President of the Republic of the Philippines, I believe other countries in the Middle East would no longer refuse.)
In a taped message during a forum on labor rights, Duterte called for the complete abolition of the kafala sponsorship system, which places migrant workers “in the most vulnerable situation."
“Itong kafala, ito 'yung sistema kung saan pinapahintulutan ng pamahalaan ng Middle East na 'yung employer ay hawak nila 'yung pasaporte at visa ng ating mga overseas workers kaya hawak sila sa leeg, pwede nilang ilipat-lipat ang ating mga OFW at kahit na tapos na 'yung kontrata pwede nilang hawakan dahil hindi naman makaalis ang ating OFW dahil walang exit visa,” said Bello.
(This system allows employers to hold on to their workers passport and visa, holding them by the neck, transferring our OFWs even if their contracts have ended because the workers cannot leave without an exit visa.)
Bello said that it’s possible Duterte may order a suspension in the deployment of OFWs in countries that refuse to stop praticing the kafala system.
“Alam naman nila na 'pag nanawagan ang ating pangulo ay ibig sabihin ginagawa niya ito para proteksiyunan ang ating mga OFW kaya kung ‘di nila pagbigyan 'yan, maliwanag ang aming direksiyon that is to suspend or at least slow down 'yung deployment ng ating mga OFW d'yan,” said Bello.
(They know that when the President makes an appeal, this means that he's doing it to protect our OFWs that's why if they can't allow it our direction is clear, that is to suspend or at least slow down the deployment of OFWs there.)