Philippines resumes full labor deployment to Kuwait

A total deployment ban of Filipinos to Kuwait was imposed in January. (AFP)
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Updated 15 February 2020

Philippines resumes full labor deployment to Kuwait

  • The decision to lift the ban was made as the Kuwaiti government had met the conditions set by the Philippine government

MANILA: Filipino household service workers (HSW) may now proceed to work in Kuwait after the Philippine government announced on Friday the total lifting of the ban on the deployment of its citizens to the Gulf state.

In a resolution approved on Thursday, February 13, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board said the government will now resume processing and deployment of all types of workers bound for Kuwait.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who chairs the POEA governing board, said the decision to lift the ban was made as the Kuwaiti government had met the conditions set by the Philippine government, including the filing of charges against the employers of slain Filipina worker Jeanelyn Villavende.

“After due consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and with the filing of appropriate charges against the perpetrators (in the killing) of OFW (Overseas Filipino Worker) Jeanelyn Villavende, the governing board of the POEA unanimously approved the lifting of the remaining ban in Kuwait with respect to the deployment of household workers,” Bello said.

A total deployment ban of Filipinos to Kuwait was imposed in January after an autopsy report by the National Bureau of Investigation revealed that Villavende was sexually abused and brutally murdered.

The labor department noted that the NBI findings were “contrary to the inadequate autopsy report of the Kuwait Ministry of Health.”

However, in view of the approval early this month by the Kuwait and Philippine governments of a harmonized employment contract for Filipino domestic workers in the oil-rich country, the POEA governing board last week partially lifted the ban. This allowed professionals and skilled and semi-skilled workers to deploy to Kuwait, but not HSWs.

Bello said the standardized contract will ensure the welfare and protection of Filipino workers in Kuwait.

The labor chief said that during their meeting with Kuwaiti officials at the beginning of February, the Kuwait government conceded the provisions that President Rodrigo Duterte specifically wants to be included in the standard employment contract for Filipino HSWs.

These include prohibition on employers keeping a worker’s passport, and allowing a worker to keep her phone and use it outside working hours.

Filipino workers are also entitled to a weekly day off with pay, must not work for more than 12 hours a day, take a break after five consecutive hours of work, and get eight hours of sleep.

Employers are also prohibited from sending a domestic worker to work outside Kuwait or to work for another employer without the Filipino HSW’s written consent. If this occurs without the agreement of the worker, Bello said the worker will be returned to the Philippines at the expense of the employer.

Further, the employer is required to register the HSW in the health system applicable in Kuwait.

More than 50 percent of about 250,000 documented workers in Kuwait are said to be household workers.

Trump urges India to ‘promote peace’ in South Asia

Updated 49 sec ago

Trump urges India to ‘promote peace’ in South Asia

NEW DELHI:  US President Donald Trump called on New Delhi to play the role of peacemaker in South Asia and work toward resolving conflicts, while also praising the country for its “syncretic and tolerant nature.”
The president, who made the remarks on the first day of his first official visit to India, was addressing a crowd of nearly 150,000 in the western city of Ahmedabad on Monday. The “Namaste Trump” event was held at a newly built cricket stadium.
He said India had an important leadership role to play in shaping a better future as it took on greater responsibility in solving problems and promoting peace in the “incredible” region.
“Your nation has been admired because Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Christians worship side by side,” he said. “India’s unity is an inspiration to the world.”
But in the same breath he also praised India’s neighbor Pakistan for cracking down on terror and militants, saying the US had a very good relationship with Pakistan.Islamabad’s drive against terror groups meant there were signs of “big progress” with Pakistan. “We are hopeful for reduced tensions, greater stability and the future of harmony for all the nations of South Asia,” he added.
After landing in Ahmedabad, which is the capital of Gujarat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, on Monday morning, Trump and his family traveled to the Gandhi Ashram, the house of India’s founding father Mahatma Gandhi, to pay tribute to the country’s famous freedom fighter.
From there the president was given a tour of the cricket stadium on the outskirts of the city where both Trump and Modi addressed the gathering.
Thousands of people lined the 20 km stretch between the airport and the stadium. They had come from different parts of the country to welcome the visiting dignitary.
“America loves India, America respects India and America would always be the loyal friend of India,” Trump said in his opening remarks to a cheering crowd.
There was an unmistakable camaraderie between Modi and Trump, who greeted each other as friends at the event and took turns in showering praise on each other.
Trump said: “Modi, you are not just the pride of Gujarat, but you are a living example that with hard work Indians can achieve anything they want.”
Modi said: “India-US relations are no longer just another partnership. It is a far greater and closer relationship. One is land of the free, the other believes the world is one family. India and the USA are natural partners. Not only in Indo-Pacific but in the whole world we can provide peace. Trump brings an opportunity to India,” he added.
In his 30-minute speech, Trump said that he would sign a defense deal worth $3 billion in New Delhi on Tuesday, adding that both sides were committed to defend their citizens from radical Islamic terrorism.
He also hoped that India and the US would sign a “fantastic trade deal” in the near future.
Trump’s family visited the Taj Mahal in Agra on Monday evening. On Tuesday, Modi and Trump are expected to hold bilateral talks and sign a number of agreements. The president is being accompanied by his wife, daughter and son-in-law.
Experts told Arab News that while they believed Trump was showing greater bonhomie toward Modi, the US leader was concerned that New Delhi was not fully pulling its weight in South Asia.
“Washington is clearly concerned that New Delhi is not acting as a peacemaker in South Asia and not playing a role of big brother in South Asia where it should be trying to bridge differences between nations,” Prof. Siddiq Wahid, of Shiv Nadar University, told Arab News. “Trump’s statement also indicates that the US considers India not as a big Asian player but limits its role as a South Asia player by asking it to play a role of peacemaker in the region.”
Pranay Kotasthane, from the Takshashila Institution, said Trump had avoided mentioning “prickly issues” for the Modi government.
But the president’s positive remarks on Pakistan showed that he needed the help of India’s rival for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan to happen, he added.
The US and the Taliban are expected to sign a peace deal on Feb. 29 after 18 months of intense negotiations. A major part of the deal is the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.