DAVAO CITY, Philippines – After the series of rows that threatened to cut the ties between the Philippines and Kuwait, Malacanang over the weekend said concrete steps have already been undertaken to normalize the relationship between the two countries.
With the recent signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) that will provide legal protection to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Middle Eastern country, Palace said previous disputes between the two counties have already been shelved.
“Nagkaroon ng deklarasyon ang dalawang bansa na itigil na ang hidwaan and we will move on. Kaya the first step in moving on is the MOA,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing on Saturday.
Roque, together with Department of Labor, Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o and other top government officials flew to Kuwait last week for formal talks with the Kuwaiti government.
They also brought back home a total of 87 repatriated domestic workers from Kuwait on Saturday.
Under the newly-signed MOA, both the Philippines and Kuwait will undertake to “uphold ethical recruitment policies, systems, and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers, subject to the applicable laws and regulations of both parties.”
Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait will now be governed by a standard contract under the MOA, Roque added.
“Ang importante po ay ‘yong standard contract din na papipirmahan sa lahat ng empleo ng mga domestic workers, hindi lang ng mga Pilipino kung hindi ‘yong mga dayuhan na nagtatrabaho bilang domestic workers,” he said.
The agreement also ensures employers to provide food, housing, clothing, and the registering of the domestic worker in Kuwait’s health insurance system.
A one month’s salary to workers for every year of service rendered after the expiration of the work contract was also stipulated in the agreement.
The MOA was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
“Nagkaroon na po tayo ng mga safeguards para po mapangalagaan ‘yong ating mga kababayan na magtatrabaho sa Kuwait,” Sec. Roque pointed out.
Next step after the normalization of diplomatic ties is the lifting of the deployment ban for skilled and semi-skilled workers to Kuwait, Palace announced.
Roque added the lifting of the deployment ban for domestic workers will soon follow.
“Naiwan po si Secretary [Abdullah] Mamao sa Kuwait at iniiwan namin kay Secretary Mama-o ang obligasyon na magrekomenda kay Presidente kung dapat na bang tuluyan i-lift ang lahat ng ban sa deployment, pero ngayon po ang pinag-aaralan ng [Department of Labor and Empoyment] ay ‘yong issue na paano talaga mapa-improve ‘yong training ng ating mga domestic workers nang mabawasan ‘yong mga issue ng takas,” Roque said.
Reforms on the recruitment of domestic workers will also be implemented by DOLE before the lifting of the ban, he added.
“Magkakaroon po ng mandatory training na babayaran ng mga recruiters dahil sila naman ang kumikita ng malaki doon sa recruitment fee na chinacharge nila sa mga Kuwaiti na nais mag-employ ng mga domestic workers at nang sa gano’n, ‘yong adjustment ay hindi na mahirapan ‘yong mga magtatrabahong domestic workers diyan sa Kuwait,” Roque said. (davaotoday.com)