MANILA - The Philippines and Saudi Arabia on Sunday reaffirmed their commitment to intensify efforts to protect and uphold the rights of OFWs in the Arab country, officials said.
The two countries, through a meeting between Special Envoy of the President Robert Borje and Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs vice-minister Waleed Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji, vowed to strengthen further their cooperation in implementing more safeguards for the rights of Filipino migrant workers.
Borje handed Al-Khuraiji a letter from President Rodrigo Duterte for King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, lauding the Middle Eastern state's Labor Reform Initiative (LRI) which the Philippine leader said paves the way for greater protection and improved welfare of all migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
The President expressed his hope of inclusion of more vulnerable sectors of the Saudi Arabia labor market in the letter, Philippine officials said.
Earlier, the Philippine government suspended deployment to the Arab state following reports that "departing OFWs are being required by their employers/foreign recruitment agencies to shoulder the costs of the health and safety protocol for COVID-19 and insurance coverage premium upon their entry in the Kingdom."
OFWs were later permitted to fly to Saudi Arabia.
Duterte also sought the Saudi king's help to renew both countries' relations by addressing COVID-19 challenges. The President said he's ready to work with Saudi officials to improve access to COVID-19 vaccines, particularly for Filipino migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.
Two countries also agreed to ramp up international cooperation for peace and development in BARMM and Marawi, and increase collaboration on tourism.