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Pinoy Abroad

Duterte praises Israel for ‘far better treatment’ of OFWs

President Rodrigo Duterte has praised Israel for its “far better” treatment of overseas Filipino workers compared to its neighbors in the Middle East.

Speaking before the Filipino community in Israel on Sunday evening (early Monday morning in Manila), Duterte thanked the Israeli government for “hosting many of my countrymen.”

There are 28,000 Filipinos in the Middle Eastern nation, mostly working as caregivers, according to the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.

“I have yet to hear any na problema manggaling man sa ano-anong klaseng Pilipino nandito,” Duterte said, adding Filipino workers there are treated as human beings.

“Kaya, if hindi naman minasama, if it’s not really a wrong proposal, pardon me, but if Israel would want, ipadala ko na lahat ang Pilipino dito kasi mas maganda ang buhay dito.”

During the President’s visit, the Philippines and Israel are expected to sign an agreement aimed at regulating the employment of OFWs and eliminating “excessive” placement fees imposed on Filipino workers bound for Israel.

Duterte made it clear that the lives of Filipinos in the Middle East is of “national interest” following reports of abuse and maltreatment involving Filipino household service workers in countries such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The Philippines and Kuwait had a diplomatic row earlier this year, triggered by the abuses suffered by OFWs in the hands of their employers.

Following negotiations, both countries entered into an agreement on the protection and welfare of OFWs, prompting Duterte in May to lift the total deployment ban on new hires.

Among the key features of the agreement are the provision for food, housing, clothing, and registration in the health insurance system for domestic workers, as well as the use of cellular phones so that OFWs could communicate with their relatives in the Philippines.

After Israel, Duterte will fly to neighboring Jordan where a labor deal is also expected to be signed by Manila and Amman.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the proposed labor agreement establishes the proper procedures for the recruitment, deployment and arrival of Filipino domestic workers in Jordan through licensed Jordanian recruitment agencies in partnership with licensed Philippine recruitment agencies. —Virgil Lopez/VDS, GMA News