03/01/2016, 18.39
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Bishop of Balanga: Thanks to the Church, the situation of Filipinos in Kuwait has improved

The president of the Filipino bishops' Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People spoke to AsiaNews about Kuwait’s "partial amnesty". He called on his compatriots “to legalise their status because it is important to respect always the law”. Some 10 million Filipinos work abroad, 2 million in the Gulf region.  For the prelate, “they are really our best missionaries” and evangelisers. “The government must help them”.

Balanga (AsiaNews) – A Filipino bishop ha praised the decision of the Emirate of Kuwait to grant a "partial amnesty" for undocumented Filipino workers.

For Mgr Ruperto C. Santos, bishop of Balanga and president of the Filipino Bishops' Commission for Migrants and Itinerant People, this "is a compassionate and merciful gesture. Now it is up to our fellow citizens to legalise their status because it is important to respect always the law, for their own good and that of the host nation."

For the prelate, following the decision by the Gulf State, "Those who do not have the right papers, or have an expired visa, can report to the authorities not only to fix the situation but also, if they wish, return home without incurring nasty situations at customs. They will avoid being blacklisted, and thus will be able to apply for a new visa.”

In its 2013 report, the Commission on Filipino Overseas (CFO) put the number of undocumented Filipinos in Kuwait at 6,000. This “poses risks for everyone,” Mgr Santos said. “We must work for the common good. In practice, this means ensuring that overseas workers are always above suspicions and protected from possible blackmail of the (foreign) authorities.”

“Sadly, the number of cases in which our compatriots are abused is very high. They have to end, but to achieve this result, they must also cooperate.”

For the bishop of Balanga, this "excellent result" is also the work by the Catholic Church in Kuwait.

"There are three great churches in the country: the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Kuwait City, St Teresa's Church in Salamiya and Our Lady of Arabia in Alhmadi. In all these churches, the Filipino community plays a lively role, and is important in pastoral outreach.”

“I must also thank the Apostolic Vicar of Northern, Mgr Camillo Ballin, who always defends the Filipinos."

In addition, overseas Filipinos are well known for their evangelisation work.

According to the latest figures, some 10 million Filipinos live outside the country, some 2 million in the Gulf region. "In every church in the world, you will find a Mass in Filipino,” Mgr Santos noted. “It is the new Latin.”

“In all seriousness,” he added, “they are really our best missionaries. They teach and bear witness to the faith every day and in every situation. The government must help them and they should help governments to prevent abuse and mistreatment."

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