Type of practice:
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) embarked on partnerships to ensure pathways for regularization of migrant workers in response to the unintended consequences brought by the Kafala system, a traditional sponsorship system in the Middle East. Addressing Kafala garnered the support of no less than Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, whose pronouncements in his final State of the Nation Address called to address this. President Duterte also mentioned Kafala in the UN General Assembly. What once was not mentioned by States in the UN made it to the UN High Level Debate. Among these efforts is the partnership of the Philippines with Bahrain in the issuance of a “flexible visa,” a work and residency permit valid for two years and renewable indefinitely. This visa was first made available to low-skilled, skilled, and professional migrants, and was later expanded to household service workers. This serves as one pathway to regularize the status of Filipino migrants to prevent being caught in unscrupulous practices that often lead to trafficking.
Benefit and Impact
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
Given that the “flexible visas” benefit many Filipino migrant workers, the Philippine government’s financial assistance provided to these workers also helped in putting momentum at the early stages of its implementation. Such investment can propel support and goodwill between the two States, and can encourage other States to do the same.