President Rodrigo Duterte wants an assurance from Kuwait that the conditions under the agreement between the two countries will be met before he signs the total lifting of the deployment ban to that country.
In his speech at the 120th founding anniversary of the Philippine Navy on Tuesday, Duterte said he had yet to agree to the total lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
The ban was imposed following reports of the abuse of Filipino workers in Kuwait, including the killing of Joanna Demafelis, the domestic worker whose body was found in a freezer in an apartment previously occupied by her employers.
But despite the partial lifting of the ban on the deployment of Filipino Workers in Kuwait, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday the Filipinos with contracts in that country could not yet return because of some problems.
He said one problem was that some of the workers’ documents had expired.
“And the processing of their papers will take time, Bello told the Senate committee led by Senator Joel Villanueva.
“And they will need some funds to get the documents needed, so I am asking the help of OWWA to assist our migrant workers who opted to go back to the Philippines but want to return to Kuwait.”
Villanueva, meanwhile, said they would also look into reports that there is no proper monitoring system or database to monitor household service workers.
Duterte said he was pleased that Kuwait had agreed to his conditions on the treatment of Filipino workers in that country, but added he was still waiting for Kuwait to guarantee that his demands would be met.
“I demanded that they are allowed to sleep seven hours guaranteed, no physical abuse, that their cellphones and passports are not confiscated, and they have a day off once a week,” Duterte said.
Under the agreement, a 24/7 hotline would also be put up where Filipino workers could report abuses, and a special police unit would be up to respond to their complaints
“So if these conditions are met, I’ll sign the total lifting of the ban,” Duterte said.
Last week, Bello announced that the ban was lifted for household service workers and skilled workers as well as professionals.
The lifting of the deployment ban to Kuwait was recommended by Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o. He made the recommendation after a successful meeting with Kuwait officials to discuss the conditions of the thousands of workers who have been experiencing maltreatment form, abusive employers.