One of the many problems encountered by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) prior to their deployment is the high placement fees collected by recruitment agencies aside from processing and medical fees and other expenses in securing various documents in applying for overseas jobs. For that reason, they are forced to sell their properties or to avail loans even on a high interest rate. But for the OFW caregivers who are applying for deployment to Israel, the placement fees will become lower as a new bilateral agreement is being forged between the two countries.
President Rodrigo Duterte is now on a four-day state visit to Israel and is set to forge a bilateral agreement during his visit. The OFWs who will be deployed in the holy land will no longer pay high placement fees when the labor agreement is signed.
Nathaniel Imperial, Philippine Ambassador to the State of Israel said that the agreement will ensure that the exploitative placement fees that are being charged to our workers would be substantially reduced, if not, eliminated.
Imperial in an interview with Radio Television Malacañang at the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel said, “It will be a government to government agreement. So private recruitment agencies will no longer be involved in the recruitment process.”
Aside from the labor and business agreements, the Philippine Embassy has identified several areas of cooperation that will be pursued during the President’s visit.
“One is in science and technology. Israel, as you know, is known as the start-up nation. It is known for its innovation and its very advanced software and technology. And this is something that we can learn from and that we can partner with Israel,” he said.
Over the last few years, he said, the Philippines has broadened the areas of labor cooperation with Israel, which is home to 29,000 Filipino workers and residents.
“Around 24,000 of them are caregivers taking care of the elderly in Israel and disabled children. And so in a way, you can say that we are helping Israel cope with an aging population,” he said.
Imperial also took pride in saying that labor conditions in Israel are some of the best in the Middle East.
“Workers here receive the highest minimum wage in all of the Middle East. And they have days off, they have the right to worship and practice their faith,” he added. “And as you know this is the Holy Land. It’s a special place for Filipino Christians and they’re having a very good time here and enjoying their work even though it’s a very difficult and demanding type of work, caregiving.”
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to meet with the Filipino community (Filcom) at Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem as a fulfillment of his promise but due to limited space, only around 1,400 OFWs will be able to meet him at the event.
The president supposed to come in May of last year. But he postponed his travel because of the Marawi incident.
It is the very first time, since the formal establishment of diplomatic ties 61 years ago, that an incumbent Philippine president visits Israel. Israelis and Filipinos enduring friendship actually started in the late 1930s according to Ambassador Imperial.
“In 2009, the Philippine embassy together with the Israeli government dedicated a monument in the city of Rishon Lezion called the Open Doors monument to commemorate the humanitarian assistance provided by the Philippines to Jewish refugees escaping the Holocaust in the late 1930s,” he said.
It is former President Manuel Quezon allowed the entry of around 1,300 Jewish refugees and that monument has attracted a lot of attention from Israeli and Filipino tourists.