Partial lifting of deployment ban to Kuwait eyed
MANILA -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is considering the partial lifting of the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following a meeting between the Philippine labor delegation and Kuwaiti officials.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the decision to lift the ban will depend on the Kuwaiti government’s action on the cases of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including Jeanelyn Villavende’s case.
“We have to be contended kung sino yung (who is the) accused. Who have been charged and what is the nature of the charges. Eh kung ang kaso lang ay (If the case is only) homicide, I will not be satisfied by that after seeing the autopsy of… There should be sexual abuse,” Bello said in an interview on Wednesday.
Bello said the hearing of Villavende’s case was held on Wednesday in Kuwait.
“I should know anytime by now the charges which have been filed. Although they told us it was murder. But I don’t think I will be contended with murder. It should be murder with rape or homicide with rape. And who are the accused,” he said.
He said he will recommend to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board the possible partial lifting after the Kuwaiti government has agreed to sign an agreement on the standard employment contract for Filipino household service workers.
The board is set to meet on Thursday.
“If you recall I imposed two conditions: the consensus on the harmonized standardized employment contract plus justice for Ms. Jeanelyn Villevende. These two must be met for us to consider the lifting. Although I am inclined to discuss the possibility of a partial lifting,” he said.
If the ban will be lifted temporarily, Bello said it will not include the household service workers (HSWs).
“Well I am considering recommending to the board the lifting of the ban with respect to semi-skilled, skilled workers, and professionals. And probably, I have not decided on that yet, probably ‘yung balik manggagawa (returning workers). It will not include newly hires,” he said.
Last February 3, Bello, Undersecretary Claro Arellano, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, and POEA chief Bernard Olalia met with Kuwaiti officials and signed a standard employment contract to ensure the welfare and protection of OFWs in the gulf state.