To­tal ban to Kuwait lifted

Pres­i­dent Duterte al­lows anew the de­ploy­ment of Filipino work­ers to the Gulf state

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By GENALYN D. KABILING

Filipino work­ers will be al­lowed anew to work in Kuwait af­ter Pres­i­dent Duterte or­dered the lift­ing of the to­tal de­ploy­ment ban of work­ers to the Gulf state.

The Pres­i­dent’s de­ci­sion came a few days af­ter the two coun­tries inked a land­mark agree­ment

pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion for over­seas Filipino work­ers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

“Upon rec­om­men­da­tion of Spe­cial En­voy to Kuwait Ab­dul­lah Ma­mao, Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Roa Duterte tonight in­structed Sec­re­tary Sil­vestre Bello to to­tally lift the ban on de­ploy­ment of Filipino work­ers to Kuwait,” Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque said.

Apart from skilled and semi-skilled work­ers, Roque said do­mes­tic work­ers would be al­lowed again to seek em­ploy­ment in Kuwait.

Just last Tues­day, Malacañang an­nounced the par­tial lift­ing of the de­ploy­ment ban to Kuwait by al­low­ing skilled and semi-skilled work­ers to go there. Roque cited the im­prov­ing re­la­tions be­tween the Philip­pines and Kuwait in the government's de­ci­sion to al­low these work­ers to travel to Kuwait. Around 20,000 skilled and semi-skilled work­ers are ex­pected to de­part for Kuwait fol­low­ing the lift­ing of the ban.

At that time, Roque said, the de­ploy­ment ban on do­mes­tic work­ers would only be lifted af­ter cer­tain re­forms in re­cruit­ment are put in place. He said do­mes­tic work­ers must un­dergo ex­ten­sive train­ing to avoid any “cul­ture shock” when they start work­ing in Kuwait.

The Pres­i­dent or­dered a to­tal de- ploy­ment ban of Filipino work­ers to Kuwait last Fe­bru­ary fol­low­ing re­ports of abuses, in­clud­ing the bru­tal killing of Filip­ina worker Joanna De­mafe­lis. The in­ci­dent prompted bi­lat­eral ne­go­ti­a­tions for a la­bor pro­tec­tion pact gov­ern­ing work­ers in Kuwait.

The re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries, how­ever, were fur­ther strained af­ter Kuwait protested the clan­des­tine res­cue of dis­tressed Filipino work­ers by Philip­pine em­bassy per­son­nel. The in­ci­dent led to the ex­pul­sion of the Philip­pine am­bas­sador from Kuwait. The Pres­i­dent later ap­pointed Ma­mao as his spe­cial en­voy to Kuwait in a bid to mend ties with Kuwait amid a diplo­matic row. The two sides even­tu­ally agreed to pro­ceed with the sign­ing of the la­bor pro­tec­tion deal last week.

The mem­o­ran­dum of agree­ment in­cludes the con­di­tions set by Pres­i­dent Duterte such as seven hours of sleep; ac­cess to food, cell­phone, and pass­port; a day off per week; and pro­tec­tion from abuse.

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