The Philippine government has ordered the partial lifting of the deployment ban to Kuwait days after the signing of the protection deal for overseas Filipino workers in the Gulf state, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippines can now deploy skilled and semi-skilled workers to Kuwait as a result of the labor pact signed by the two countries last Friday.
Among the key features of the agreement are the provision for food, housing, clothing, and the registration in the health insurance system for domestic workers, as well as the use of cellular phones so that OFWs could communicate with their relatives in the Philippines.
The deal also provides that the employer should open a bank account under the domestic worker’s name to allow the reasonable opportunity to remit his or her monthly salary to relatives in the Philippines.
Roque said the ban on deployment of household service workers will “eventually be lifted.”
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said reforms will be implemented on the recruitment of domestic workers before the ban on their deployment is lifted.
President Rodrigo Duterte imposed in February a deployment ban on newly hired OFWs to Kuwait due to cases of abuses, among them the killing of Joanna Demafelis whose body was found inside a freezer in an apartment previously occupied by her employers.
Negotiations for the deal followed, which nearly fell through following the controversial rescue of distressed OFWs by the Philippine embassy staff last month.
Videos of the rescue of Filipinos by Philippine diplomatic staff from their Kuwaiti employers circulated in the media, angering the Kuwaiti government which viewed the act as a violation of its sovereignty and decried what it called as “inappropriate behavior” by the diplomatic staff.
Kuwait also expelled Philippine Ambassador Renato Villa and recalled its envoy in Manila.
Duterte sent some of his officials last week to thresh out issues with Kuwait, which culminated in the signing of a labor pact advancing the protection and welfare of OFWs.
Some 260,000 Filipinos live and work in Kuwait, mostly household service workers, according to government estimates. —MDM/ALG, GMA News