DFA official says 'victory' for PH if Saudi abolishes kafala

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 02 2020 06:54 PM

The DFA welcomed some 707 OFWs from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last July. Courtesy of DFA Facebook Page/File photo

MANILA - It will be a “victory” for the Philippines’ anti-kafala or anti-slavery campaign if Saudi Arabia pushes through with the abolition of the kafala sponsorship system and replace it with a form of contract between employers and employees, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

“IF and WHEN this happens, this will be a victory for the Philippine anti-kafala/anti-slavery campaign. President Duterte is the first and perhaps the only Head of State who openly criticized kafala. Indeed, change is coming,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) Sarah Arriola said in a Facebook post, reacting to media reports.

A report had suggested that Saudi will be replacing kafala with a form of contract between employers and employees.

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The report said the Kingdom’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development “was planning on announcing a decision sometime next week” and that it “would be implemented during the first half of 2021, aimed at reforming contracts between workers and their employees.”

It quoted a report that said: “It is expected that more than 10 million expatriates will benefit from the new system. This initiative is part of other initiatives targeting the quality of life for expatriates, including one for housing and another for entertainment.”

The report explained that the current kafala system “ties workers to their employers, or sponsors, who are responsible for the employees’ visa and legal status.”

“According to Al Arabiya, the new law would limit the relationship between employers and expatriate workers under the system, who primarily work in construction and domestic work,” the report said.

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