DOLE suspends OFW deployment to Kuwait

Photo via inquirer.net


By VJ Bacungan/CNN Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) ordered on Friday the immediate suspension of the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait.

In Administrative Order No. 25, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to stop the processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates (OEC) to all Kuwait-bound workers as authorities probe the death of seven OFWs in the Gulf state.

“We would like to seek justice for our OFWs, and while the investigation is undergoing, we are suspending the processing and issuance of OECs,” Bello said. “We are doing this for utmost protection and welfare of our kababayan [fellow citizens].”

DOLE said the seven Filipino workers who died in Kuwait were Liezl Truz Hukdong, Vanessa Karissha L. Esguerra, Marie Fe Saliling Librada, Arlene Castillo Manzano, Devine Riche Encarnacion, Patrick Sunga, and Mira Luna Juntilla.

The agency said all of them were household services workers, with most of them deployed in 2016.

On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he wanted a total ban on the deployment of OFWs, particularly household workers, to Kuwait following reports of sexual abuses.

“We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months,” Duterte said during the opening of the Overseas Filipino Bank. “It’s always in Kuwait. My advice is, we talk to them, state the truth and just tell them that it’s not acceptable anymore.”

“I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait,” Duterte added. “I respect their leaders, but they have to do something about this.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano said they are looking into Duterte’s request for a total ban.

“Ang problema natin kasi may mga lugar like Iraq na may ban tayo pero magdadagdaan pa rin ‘yung Pilipino [the problem is we have places like Iraq that already have travel bans but are still seeing a rise in Filipino workers] so we have to weigh that,” Cayetano told reporters Friday.

Cayetano is set to meet with Kuwait’s ambassador on Monday to discuss Duterte’s concerns.

“I’m expecting a good response fom the ambassador but of course we have to see the response translate into action, meaning protection of our OFWs,” he added.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showed Kuwait remains one of the top destinations for OFWs.

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