Duterte wants Kafala system abolished
MANILA, Philippines —Rodrigo Duterte has pushed for the “complete abolition” of the Kafala system, or the sponsorship system for migrant workers, calling it “unjust” and “exploitative.”
The Kafala system requires migrant workers to have a sponsor in the country of employment to get a visa and worker’s permit. This allows employers to control the employment and migration status of foreign workers.
Duterte said the system places thousands of migrant workers, particularly in-household workers in the “most vulnerable position.”
“We can’t justify the denial of basic human rights and the fundamental freedoms of every individual. That is why the Philippine government strongly calls for the complete abolition of the kafala system sooner rather than later,” he said in a speech during the virtual forum on labor mobility and human rights.
“The kafala system is unjust, exploitative and places thousands of migrant workers—particularly in-household workers—in the most vulnerable situation, unseen, unheard, and unable to defend their dignity,” he added.
Duterte said the kafala system has led to non-payment of wages, restriction of movement, denial of healthcare, sexual exploitation, and outright murder.
Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed migrant workers, especially those under the said system, to “an even more precarious position,” he added.
“As the world went into lockdowns, many were driven into destitution, with no job, no social safety nets, and no money to send back home. This cannot go on,” Duterte said.
“We must address the structural inequalities. Our pandemic responses must be inclusive, with no room for any of this discrimination,” he added.
The President said he welcomes the reform initiatives of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain.
“As I have said before, the Filipino is not a slave to anyone, anywhere. I dream of the day when working abroad becomes a choice and not a need,” he said.
“But while this remains a vision the Philippines strongly advocates, and works with all partners to realize the global impact of safe, orderly and regular migration,” he added.
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