citing the importance of Bahrain-Philippines ties and expressing the commitment to strengthen bilateral ties with the Philippines based on deep respect, shared values, and true friendship.
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In the 30-minute long audience granted by His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa to Special Envoy and Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs Robert E.A. Borje on Dec. 31, 2020, Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister emphasized that relations between the Kingdom and the Philippines were important, and recognized the contributions of Filipinos to the socio-economic development of the Kingdom.
which emphasized the value placed by the President on the friendship with His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister as well as the long-standing ties with the Kingdom.
In his letter, Duterte expressed the Philippine Government’s commitment to further broaden and expand cooperation with Bahrain and the readiness to ramp up the partnership on migrant workers’ rights protection from bilateral to multilateral venues. This, even as the President conveyed gratitude for His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Crown Prince Salman’s demonstrated commitment to protect the welfare and promote the well-being of Filipinos in the Kingdom, particularly during the pandemic.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, in turn, assured that Filipinos in the Kingdom will be taken care of. He assured that it is the responsibility of the Bahrain Government to take care of Filipinos in the Kingdom and this includes complete access to medical attention and care, regardless of citizenship.
Borje thanked and commended Bahrain for its effective and efficient management of Covid-19 through a comprehensive and egalitarian approach that has seen tracing, testing, treatment, and now vaccination extended to everyone residing in the Kingdom, including the 50,000 Filipinos living and working in Bahrain regardless of their legal status.
He also conveyed Duterte’s deep trust and respect for His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister for the demonstrated commitment to upholding migrant workers’ rights, particularly in the efforts to dismantle the egregious kafala system and the Philippines’ readiness to work closely with Bahrain to advocate reforms.
Borje said Duterte recognizes Bahrain’s leadership in upholding migrant workers’ rights and in reforming the sponsorship system and reiterated the President’s principled position that the Filipino is no slave to anyone, anywhere in the world.
His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa stated that Bahrain “will not abuse that trust’’, citing that respect for humanity and human dignity was a core Bahrain value.
Stating that human freedom is essential, the Prime Minister said Bahrain continues on the path of labor and migrant reforms that can be emulated by other nations. He also stressed the need to cooperate intensively on human rights and migrant workers’ rights in multilateral fora to effectively end the kafala system and address related issues, including human trafficking.
Borje highlighted Bahrain’s role as a global leader in migrant workers’ rights, noting that the country’s influence in promoting labor reform in the Middle Eastern region, in particular, has transformed the lives of many Filipinos through empowerment and freedom.
He welcomed the landmark conviction and sentencing of eight individuals in April 2020 by the Bahrain High Criminal Court for the human trafficking case filed by Filipino nationals.
He described the decision as a testament to the strong determination and partnership between Bahrain and the Philippines for prevention, interdiction, arrest, prosecution, and conviction to end the trafficking of human persons.
Responding to Duterte’s desire and commitment to broaden and deepen cooperation between the Philippines and Bahrain, the Crown Prince underscored that there are many opportunities worth exploring and expressed willingness and commitment to see Duterte’s objective realized, particularly through the establishment of consultative and coordinating mechanisms at the Ministerial Level to ensure that collaborative efforts are acted on decisively.
Borje noted that increased trade and investment, cooperation in education, human resource development, public health, as well as Islamic banking and financial technology are particular areas of interest, saying that cooperation in Islamic banking would provide crucial support for President’s peace and development agenda for the Bangsamoro in Mindanao.
In consideration of the special “partnership of brothers,” he conveyed Duterte’s invitation for His Majesty the King and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister to visit the Philippines as soon as circumstances allow, so His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa and His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa can reaffirm bilateral ties and experience the gratitude of the Filipino nation.
The Crown Prince and Prime Minister welcomed the invitation from President Duterte.
The audience granted by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa capped the four-day official visit to Manama spearheaded by Borje as Duterte’s Special Envoy to the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, Borje is only the fourth and the last foreign official to be received by the Crown Prince and Prime Minister over the course of the year, after the US Secretary of State, the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, and the Indian External Affairs Minister.
Accompanying Borje in the meeting with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister were Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affair Sarah Lou Y. Arriola of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of the Philippines to Bahrain Alfonso Ver.
At the end of the special mission, the Philippine delegation brought 243 Filipinos from the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain back to Manila on Friday.
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