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Gov’t looks into effects of its total deployment ban to OFWs in Kuwait

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from Kuwait gather upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay city, Metro Manila, Philippines February 21, 2018. Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to evacuate workers after a Filipina was found dead stuffed inside a freezer. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The Philippine government will be studying how the total deployment ban of Overseas Filipino Workers to Kuwait has affected the country’s laborers in the Middle Eastern country.

According to Department of Labor and Employment undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad, this will be the primary concern of his trip to Kuwait and that he will be joined by officials from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Lagunzad explained that they will check if the ban has caused ‘risks’ to the OFWs in Kuwait.

“Our primary concern is first to assess the effects of the ban. I don’t know if we have reason to belive if the OFWs are at risk due to the ban.” Lagunzad explained during DZRH’s One On One.

The Labor official further added that they will also meet with representatives of OFW groups in Kuwait, in order to get suggestions on how to provide additional protection to Filipinos in the foreign soil.

“We will talk to OFW associations, representatives ng mga grupo ng mga OFW. We would like to find out what they think about the issue and maybe they can suggest specific ways of improving protection of the OFWs.” Lagunzad revealed.

Lagunzad also promised to assist in the repatriation of distressed and vulnerable OFWs in Kuwait.

“Yung gustong umuwi at kailangan umuwi, tutulungan natin. Mas lalo na yung distressed. Ito yung mga naabuso at hindi nabayaran ng mabuti.” Lagunzad promised.

The DOLE official also explained that they will be sending additional staff to Kuwait due to the ‘magnitude’ of the problem

Lagunzad admitted that the current number of labor officials in Kuwait are having difficulties responding the problems of the more than 250,000 OFWs, most of which are domestic helpers.

“The magnitude of the problem requires that we send additional people. Hindi naman maasikaso lahat ng staff natin.” Lagunzad said. “They have about 250,000 OFWs in Kuwait. The biggest part would be our household service workers. Kailangan ng maraming assistance diyan.”

President Rodrigo Duterte recently ordered the implementation of a total deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait after a Filipino domestic helper in the country, Joanna Demafelis, was found dead inside a freezer.

Prior to the case of Demafelis, there have also been numerous cases of OFWs that were maltreated by the employers in Kuwait.

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