Duterte renews his call to end the Kafala system

President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday denounced the persistence of the controversial Kafala program which monitors and restricts the movements of migrant workers.

In his recorded speech to the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Duterte renewed his call for the complete abrogation of the Kafala in the Middle East.

“The Kafala system is one of those behemoths that chains the weak, the hopeless and the voiceless to the existence of unimaginable suffering. Nothing can justify the continued existence of this unjust system, ”said Duterte.

Duterte said any project that paves the way for the “exploitation and oppression” of migrant workers must be dismantled.

Duterte made the appeal, as he acknowledged that millions of Filipinos are working abroad “under the most difficult and inhumane circumstances”.

“The Philippines is seeking stronger partnerships to protect the rights of Filipinos and realize the full potential of our nation,” he said. “While reforms have been made, the Kafala system must be dismantled – as soon as possible – in the name of basic justice and decency.”

In April this year, Duterte called for the “complete” abolition of the “unjust” and “exploitative” Kafala system in order to end the inequalities and suffering of migrant workers.

Duterte, in his sixth and final State of the Nation address on July 26, threatened to order the repatriation of Filipino workers abroad from Arab countries, if the controversial Kafala project is not dismantled.

Kafala comes from the Arabic word which means “sponsorship”.

The Kafala system is a mechanism in the Gulf countries used to monitor migrant workers, usually unskilled workers through a sponsor, including household service workers, construction workers and workers in the sector. services.

Under the program, the sponsor is usually the employer who is responsible for the immigration status and visa of the migrant worker. The worker cannot leave without the consent of his employer, which makes him vulnerable to abuse.

On April 23, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Robert Borje said Duterte was working “quietly” with Middle Eastern heads of state to end the Kafala system. (ANP)

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