(Photo courtesy of OFW Help Facebook)

MANILA – Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has commended the United Arab Emirates (UAE) government, under the leadership of Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for its significant strides in enhancing the labor conditions of foreign workers in the UAE.

Pimentel highlighted a notable decrease in the number of runaway maids reported this year, including Filipino domestic workers in the UAE.

“It is encouraging to witness such positive developments, indicating tangible progress in the welfare of foreign workers in the UAE,” Pimentel said in a media release on Tuesday.

“The efforts undertaken by the UAE government, alongside the close cooperation with our very hardworking labor attachés, demonstrate a commitment to ensuring the protection and rights of all workers,” he added.

He also welcomed the recent directive issued by the UAE government, which mandates the inclusion of all private sector employees and domestic workers in the compulsory health insurance scheme. Effective 2025, employers will be obligated to provide health coverage for their registered workers upon issuance or renewal of residency permits.

“This action demonstrates a proactive stance toward enhancing the welfare of workers and emphasizes the UAE’s dedication to fair employment standards,” Pimentel said.

Based on data, the UAE is the second home to one of the largest populations of overseas Filipinos in the Middle East, the senator noted.

Pimentel is the author of Senate Bill No. 2556 which seeks to declare Aug. 19 of every year as a special day for the commemoration of the Philippines-United Arab Emirates Friendship Day, commemorating the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations on Aug. 19, 1974.

“The Philippines and the UAE share a deep-rooted friendship, characterized by mutual respect, cooperation, and shared values,” he said.

He noted that his office has collaborated with the UAE, facilitated by the Emirates Red Crescent, to execute the Iftar program during Ramadan, aimed at supporting various nominated Muslim groups throughout the holy month.

Furthermore, Pimentel underscored the longstanding humanitarian efforts of the UAE towards the Filipino community, exemplified by various initiatives aimed at supporting Filipinos both within the UAE and in the Philippines.

From providing relief aid during natural disasters to extending assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, the UAE has consistently demonstrated its solidarity and support for the Filipino people, according to the senator.

“We commend the UAE government for its proactive approach in addressing the needs of foreign workers and reaffirming its commitment to humanitarian principles,” Pimentel said. (PR)