Deployment ban on skilled, semi-skilled OFWs to Kuwait lifted

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 15 May) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered a partial lifting of the deployment ban on overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait that took effect last Feb. 9.

Palace spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over Radyo Pilipinas on Tuesday that the lifting of the ban came after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the rights of OFWs between the Philippines and Kuwait.

Roque announced that some 20,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers would be deployed to Kuwait.

He said the deployment ban on domestic helpers stays but added it would be lifted in the coming days.

He said deployment of domestic workers would have to be reformed and that they would have to undergo an extensive training before flying to Kuwait to prevent “culture shock.”

The MOA allows OFWs to use mobile phones so that distressed workers can relay their complaints to a hotline, he said.

“At bukod pa po doon ay bumuo ng isang special unit sa loob ng Kuwait police na makikipag-ugnayan po sa ating embahada sa Kuwait para po bigyan ng tulong iyong mga distressed OFW na tatawag sa hotline (Aside from this, we have also created a special unit within the Kuwait police that will coordinate with our embassy in Kuwait to provide help to the distressed OFWs who call the hotline),” he added.

In an eight-page document, the two countries agreed to observe standards in the areas of recruitment and employment of domestic workers, entry and repatriation, legal measures against erring employers, among others.

The MOA defines the responsibilities of the Kuwaiti government, which include guaranteeing the rights of domestic workers, and ensuring that employers provide health insurance and other basic needs.

The Kuwaiti government further agreed to prohibit employers from keeping the domestic workers’ personal identity documents such as passports, a common complaint of OFWs working in the Middle East.

Among the Philippine government’s responsibility are to ensure that arriving domestic helpers meet the medical requirements and have no criminal record at home.

The Philippine government will also require local recruitment agencies not to deduct from the salary of the domestic workers any costs attendant to their recruitment and deployment or impose any kind of unauthorized salary deductions. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)