Talks with Kuwait for welfare of OFWs 'going well' – DFA

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday, March 11, hailed "progress being made" in talks with Kuwait regarding the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Quoting Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, the DFA said Kuwait has agreed to the following conditions for Filipino domestic workers:

But the DFA said the Philippines will not lift its deployment ban to Kuwait unless "more practical measures" to protect OFWs are included in the two countries' bilateral agreement. (READ: Kuwait only 'partially compliant' but rules allowed deployment – POEA)

"Our negotiations with Kuwait have so far been going well but we need to put in place more practical measures that would ensure the safety and welfare of our kababayans (countrymen) working there," the DFA quoted Cayetano as saying.

For instance, Cayetano said, OFWs' salaries should be given to them directly through their bank accounts.

"This will ensure that our kababayans (countrymen) do not get shortchanged and will receive the salary they originally signed up for," he said.

Cayetano added that OFWs should also be able to file complaints against their employers directly with Kuwaiti authorities.

The Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) had enforced a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait last February 12. (READ: Duterte lashes out at Kuwait over mistreatment of Filipino workers)

Among the cases cited was that of Joanna Demafelis, an OFW who was reported missing as early as January 2017. Her remains were later found in a freezer in Kuwait around a year later, and finally brought back to the Philippines last February 16. (READ: 'A national shame': The death and homecoming of Joanna Demafelis)

The suspects in Demafelis' killing, Lebanese Nader Essam Assaf and his Syrian wife Mona Hassoun, have since been arrested. Alleged recruiter Agnes Tuballes may also face charges even if she claims she only referred Demafelis to recruitment agency Our Lady of Mt Carmel Global E-Human Resources Incorporated.

DFA and DOLE officials will meet on Monday, March 12, to discuss OFW issues and reforms, according to the DFA. –