DOLE seeks partial lifting of Kuwait deployment ban

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Saturday, May 12, that he will recommend to President Rodrigo Duterte the partial lifting of the ban on deploying Filipino workers to Kuwait.

The recommendation will cover skilled workers or professionals, Bello announced in a press conference at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, after the repatriation of over 80 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait. 

"Probably in a day or two, I will recommend to the President the partial lifting of the deployment ban... with respect to our skilled workers or our professionals," Bello said. 

Philippines and Kuwait signed on Friday, May 11, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) providing additional protection for OFWs in the Gulf state. Bello and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque were among the officials who witnessed the signing of the MOA.

Read the full text of the agreement below:

As for household service workers, Bello said, "Kailangang pag-aralan nating mabuti at tingnan natin 'yung epekto noong ating nilagdaan na [MOA] na may kalakip na template ng deployment contract."

(We will need to study this and see the effects of the MOA that we signed, and that includes a template of the deployment contract.)

Duterte on Thursday said he is open to the lifting of the deployment ban if his conditions for the welfare and safety of OFWs are included in the MOA. It is not clear, however, whether the President supports the full or partial lifting of the ban.

Roque on Saturday said that relations between the Philippines and Kuwait are now "normal" – weeks after the release of a video showing the rescue of abused OFWs caused a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Roque emphasized that the Philippine government will continue to make sure that Filipinos will be treated properly and protected overseas.

"One Joanna Demafelis is too much. Hindi po tayo papayag na maski isa na ating kababayan ay mamatay (We will not allow even just one of our countrymen to die)," he said, referring to the OFW who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait.

Roque also asked Filipinos to not generalize Kuwaitis.

"Hindi po lahat ng mga Kuwaiti ay mapang-api. Mayroon lang talagang ilang mga bugok sa kanila (Not all Kuwaitis are abusive. There are just some of them who are rotten eggs)," Roque said. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com