OFWs with prior contracts can return to Kuwait – immigration chief

Lian Buan
OFWs with prior contracts can return to Kuwait – immigration chief
'Kuwaiti-bound Filipinos with short-term non-working visas are also not covered by the ban,' says Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s total deployment ban to Kuwait does not cover Filipino workers with prior employment contracts and are just in the country for a vacation, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) confirmed on Wednesday, February 14.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente made the clarification on Wednesday following concerns raised by Filipinos already employed in Kuwait but are just home for a visit.

“Kuwait-bound Filipinos with short-term non-working visas are also not covered by the ban. Thus, they, too, will be allowed to depart,” Morente added.

The BI chief said this is pursuant to a new directive from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) exempting from the ban overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) covered by the “Balik Manggagawa ” program.

The Balik Manggagawa program covers OFWs who frequently return to the country for short vacations.

“With this development, there is no more obstacle and impediment for these ‘Balik Manggagawa’ OFWs to return to their jobs in Kuwait,” Morente said.

After the announcement of a total deployment ban, more than a hundred OFWs were barred at the airport from boarding their flights to Kuwait.  (READ: Duterte lashes out at Kuwait over mistreatment of Filipino workers)

Morente said he instructed the BI’s port operations chief to make sure that OFWs who were already working in Kuwait prior to the imposition of the deployment ban can proceed to their flights.

He reminded newly-recruited OFWs:  “As for those who have just been recruited to work in Kuwait.  We are sorry but we cannot let you leave,” Morente said.

Morente said that immigration personnel are on high alert to “thwart attempts by the illegal recruiters and human trafficking syndicates to circumvent the ban by employing all sorts of dirty schemes.”

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the ban is due to a “series of reports involving abuse and death of OFWs in Kuwait.” Rappler.com

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.