Philippines imposes total ban on sending workers to Kuwait

The total ban on Filipino workers to Kuwait was approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on the recommendation of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 16 January 2020

Philippines imposes total ban on sending workers to Kuwait

  • The total ban was approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA)
  • Exempted from the ban are skilled workers and professionals

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.

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

Updated 24 February 2020

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sexual assault, rape

  • Former movie producer Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape by a New York jury
  • He was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann, a onetime aspiring actress, in 2013

NEW YORK: Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a partial victory for the #MeToo movement that sparked a cascade of allegations against the disgraced Hollywood mogul.
The jury of seven men and five women found the producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree, a measure of vindication for the dozens of women who came out against the one-time all-powerful filmmaker.
However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner who produced films including "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault charges that could have seen him jailed for life.
The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, hailed the verdict as marking "a new era of justice."
"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.
The limited win for #MeToo presents the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago.
The decision was announced in a packed New York courtroom where some 100 people had gathered. The defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, was shielded from view by police officers.
More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited the #MeToo global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.
But the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi, with many claims too old to prosecute.
One of the predatory sexual assault charges also included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.
Six women took the stand from the opening of testimony on January 22, to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.
Weinstein's team subjected the women to ferocious cross-examination, as they argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.
The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he was king, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.
The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.
Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.
He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Mimi Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.
Mann and Young both testified that Weinstein's genitals appeared deformed, during graphic and at times uncomfortable testimony, as the prosecution showed jurors nude photos of Weinstein to corroborate their accounts.
The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most serious and carried a sentence of life in prison.
For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.
Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.
Ex-model Lauren Young also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.
Judge Burke dismissed the jury just after noon Monday, thanking them for their "care" and "attention."
Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.
Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.