Hjayceelyn M. Quintana and Faisal Eissa Lutfi sign the agreement.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

The UAE and the Philippines have boosted their people-to-people relations, particularly in areas whereby both governments are going to provide and facilitate timely and effective assistance for the protection and welfare of their respective nationals in both countries.

The reinforcement was through a formal agreement, specifically a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) called “Establishment of a Joint Consular Committee in the Consular Field.”

UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) Consular Affairs Assistant Undersecretary Faisal Eissa Lutfi and Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn M. Quintana signed the MoU at the MoFAIC headquarters in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Stipulated in the MoU are periodic “joint committee meetings.” The first was held virtually on Wednesday after the MoU signing. It was convened and chaired by Lutfi.

On Saturday, Quintana told Gulf Today the “bilateral agreement” is both important and significant because through it, the Philippine and UAE governments are committed to continually work on and build up or further strengthen “systems and communication lines” regarding consular access and corresponding services for Filipinos in the UAE and Emiratis in the Philippines through pertinent authorities.

There are approximately 500,000 Filipinos as contractual workers in the UAE. Emiratis go to the Philippines generally for business and holiday.

Quintana said: “I am very happy with this development and bilateral agreement because excellent people-to-people relations are the bedrock for effective relations between countries. This bilateral relations between the Philippines and the UAE, and the MoU, is a testimony to the commitment of both countries to further protect the interests of their nationals in each other’s country.”

The UAE delegation at the inaugural (Wednesday) virtual “Joint Committee Meeting in Consular Field,” led by Lutfi, consisted of other MoFAIC officers and representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi Health Services and the Federal Agency for Identity and Citizenship.

Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Consular Services Assistant Secretary Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro was the head of the Philippine delegation composed of other DFA people, Quintana, Consul General for Dubai and the Northern Emirates Paul Raymund Cortes, other Philippine Embassy and Philippine Consulate General officers, and representatives from Manila’s Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Philippine National Police.

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