Kuwait deployment ban stays sans MOA

Apr. 30, 2018

President Rodrigo Duterte talks with Ambassador of Kuwait to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh the Malacañang Palace on February 7, 2018. (Malacañang file photo)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Philippine government’s total deployment ban of workers to Kuwait would stay unless a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on the treatment of Filipino workers in Kuwait is signed.

In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Labor Secretary Bello and other cabinet members will be in Kuwait on May 7 for diplomatic negotiations.

“We still have a mission there to protect our nationals and Kuwait also is duty-bound to protect aliens under the standards dictated by international law, under terms and conditions which are not inferior to the way they treat their own nationals,” Roque said.

Just recently upon his arrival from Singapore, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that total deployment ban of OFW’s in Kuwait will stay permanently.

“There will be no more recruitment for, especially domestic helpers,” he said in his statement at the Davao International Airport.

“Your government will do its best to help you return and resettle. I appeal to your sense of patriotism and to your love of country and family,” he added.

According to Roque, the President is set to use the MOA as a precondition for the lifting of the total deployment ban.

The Kuwaiti government condemned the repatriation of OFW’s after the issuance of the total employment ban in February mentioning the Philippines “flagrant and grave breach of rules and regulations that govern diplomatic action, where staff helped Filipina house helpers run away.”

The rescue attempts of Embassy staff to “rescue” Filipino domestic workers from their employers’ homes amid reports of abuse is said to violate the sovereignty of Kuwait.

In April, Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa was declared persona non grata.

The Philippines’ diplomatic ties with Kuwait remain with the presence of a diplomatic mission headed by a chargé d’affaires.

However, Migrante Philippines chairperson Arman Hernando lambasted the Philippine government’s flip flopping of statements; a clear indicator that it has no concrete plans for migrant workers.

On the other hand, they see the MOA as a welcome development; an important aspect in ensuring the welfare of OFW’s in Kuwait and would help in visualizing the OFW deployment in Kuwait.

He added that, “Migrante and SANDIGAN (Samahan ng mga Domestic Helpers sa Gitnang Silangan) is actively working towards the creation of a substantial bilateral agreement between the two countries. We look forward to this and would want that the calls of the OFWs in Kuwait be included in the said agreement.”

The four unities of the domestic helpers in the Middle East, according to MIGRANTE are concrete mechanisms in serving justice and immediate response to abused OFWs, full recognition of domestic helpers rights as human and a worker that would put a stop on human trafficking, deprivatization of the overseas employment program making the deployment and services to OFWs directly handled and monitored by the Philippine government and the reorientation of the overseas employment program which calls for the creation of more jobs in the country through ending rural poverty and national industrialization.

“We cannot expect our OFWs to come home if the root cause of their migration-poverty due to landlessness and lack of decent jobs still exists and is actually worsening. We want our family to be whole again but we are forced by our economic condition to be torn apart. Can the President provide for all the needs of the 260,000 OFW families in Kuwait once they return here in the country?” Arman Hernando, Migrante Phils Chairperson said. (davaotoday.com)

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