POEA administrator Hans Cacdac (right) speaks to reporters on the updates about the Qatar - Philippines Joint Labour Committee meeting in Doha. PICTURE: Joey Aguilar

By Joey Aguilar/Staff Reporter

The Philippine government has received a positive response from Qatar’s Ministry of Labour to further enhance the protection of overseas Filipino workers' (OFWs) welfare in the country, a senior official of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has said.

POEA Administrator Hans Cacdac told reporters that they proposed to have an agreement and implementing guidelines on the recruitment and protection of Filipino Household Service Workers (HSWs).

“The Qatari side is willing to sit down with us to discuss these matters on our next meeting,” he said.

Cacdac was speaking on the sidelines of his visit to the country for the second Qatar – Philippines Joint Labour Committee meeting held on February 4 and 5 in Doha.

He noted that some of the issues tackled during the discussion focused on transparency in the process of recruiting Filipino workers and ethical practices through regulation of recruitment costs and placement fees.

The two parties also discussed best possible ways to resolve disputes involving OFWs “with the clear participation of the embassy and the labour attaché.”

The Abu Dhabi dialogue, a multilateral forum, held in Kuwait last year was also brought up at the meeting, which Cacdac said, generated two major projects under the Philippine chairmanship: the skills recognition and certification, and information orientation programme for migrant workers.

In Qatar, the POEA official disclosed that they have engaged Qatari labour officials on how to develop the two activities on a bilateral level.

“We asked the Qataris if they would be interested and they said ‘yes’. We will embark in further technical discussions to develop this particular education information orientation programme,” said Cacdac.

He believes that one of the best ways to protect workers is to raise the level of their skills.

“A reason why skills recognition was proposed to be an activity is to make sure that those who are deployed have enough skills to protect themselves,” he pointed out. “Second, those with the lowest skills sets, such as HSWs, should be afforded maximum protection.

“When we engage host countries such as Qatar, we engage them on the level of how best to provide protection rather than discussing deployment figures, volumes, etc.”

While the committee had agreed to hold a meeting in the Philippines by the end of 2015, another technical discussion is expected to take place in Doha during the second half of this year.

Details of the meeting will be communicated to Philippine Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz who met with officials of Qatar’s Ministry of Labour in November last year, according to Cacdac.

He said their visit to Qatar aims is to further enhance the bilateral relations of the two countries for the protection of OFWs.