MANILA: The Philippines has announced a total ban on sending Filipino workers to Kuwait.
The development comes two weeks after the death of Filipino national Jeanelyn Villavende in the Gulf state.
The total ban was approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on the recommendation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
Bello III claimed that the autopsy report from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on the death of Villavende was in complete contrast to that from Kuwait’s Ministry of Health.
According to the labor secretary, another reason for the total ban was the failure of the Kuwaiti government to come into an agreement regarding the standard employment contract in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement in signed 2018.
Under the agreement, Philippines and Kuwait were supposed to come up with a standard employment contract in order to provide sufficient protection for Filipino workers.
“That’s almost two years ago of discussing and debating but until now, we have not finalized anything,” Bello said.
Resolution No. 04, Series of 2020 approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board on Wednesday (Jan. 15) states that a total ban is imposed on the processing and deployment of domestic workers or household service workers, semi-skilled workers, skilled workers, and professionals, including crew Filipino seafarers in Kuwait.
Exempted from the ban are skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts or categorized as “Balik-Manggagawa” (returning workers) and those who will be cleared by the Secretary of Labor.
“Those who will come home for a vacation and has an existing contract are still allowed to travel to Kuwait, however, workers with new contracts will be covered by the ban. This move is nothing less than for the protection of our workers,” Bello said.
Resolution No. 04 noted that Bello already informed President Rodrigo Duterte of the imposition of the total ban of OFWs in Kuwait.
Duterte’s spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press briefing in Malacanang that deployment of workers to the Gulf state is suspended indefinitely “until such time (that) the terms of the (2018) MOA are incorporated in each labor contract between the employer and the employee.”
“We are asking them to implement it,” he said.