Filipinos wanting to work as caregivers in Israel would no longer have to pay high placement fees as the governments of Israel and the Philippines are expected to forge a bilateral labor agreement during President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s state visit on September 2-5.
Philippine Ambassador to the State of Israel Nathaniel Imperial said the labor cooperation agreement will “hopefully ensure that the exploitative placement fees that are being charged to our workers would be substantially reduced, if not, eliminated.”
“It will be a government to government agreement. So private recruitment agencies will no longer be involved in the recruitment process,” Imperial said in an interview with Radio Television Malacañang at the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel on August 30.
Aside from the labor and business agreements, Imperial said 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.”
The President, who departed Manila Sunday afternoon for Israel, is expected to meet with the Filipino community (Filcom) at Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem at around 9:30 p.m. (Manila time).
Imperial said Filipinos are looking forward to the meeting because it is a a fulfillment of the President’s promise.
“He was supposed to come in May of last year. But because of the Marawi incident, he had to postpone his overseas travel,” he said.
Because of the limitations of space though, only around 1,400 Filipinos will be able to meet with President Duterte at the Filcom event venue.
Imperial said Filipinos in Israel are fortunate because President Duterte’s visit is the first by a sitting Philippine president since the formal establishment of diplomatic ties 61 years ago.
He said the enduring friendship between Israelis and Filipinos actually started in the late 1930s.
“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.
He added that then 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.
”At gaya ng aming pangako, sisiguraduhin natin na maraming mga agreements na importante na mapipirmahan para sa ikabubuti at sa kapakanan ng ating mga manggagawang Pilipinong caregivers dito sa Holy Land (As promised, we will make sure that many important agreements will be signed for the welfare and benefit of Filipino caregivers in Israel,” he added.