Philippines lifts deployment ban to Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has fully lifted the deployment ban to Kuwait, making it possible for all types of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to return and work in the Gulf state.
This comes a week after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) eased what had initially been a sweeping ban, which was imposed after the brutal killing of a domestic worker there. The partial lifting of the ban on February 6 allowed newly-hired and returning skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, and professionals to be deployed to Kuwait.
With the complete lifting of the ban on Friday, February 14, new and returning household service workers may also be deployed to the the Gulf state again.
The DOLE estimated that there are at least 125,000 household service workers in Kuwait, comprising at least 50% of the over 250,000 documented OFWs there.
According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration approved the complete lifting of the ban after murder charges were filed against the employers of OFW Jeanelyn Villavende in December 2019. Bello earlier said that Villavende's employers had already been detained by Kuwaiti authorities.
An autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) revealed that 26-year-old Villavende was raped before her employers beat her to death in Kuwait. The investigation also showed that she had suffered from past physical abuse before her killing.
The NBI autopsy led the Philippine government to declare a total deployment ban to Kuwait on January 15.
Philippine authorities condemned Villavende's death, describing it as a "clear violation" of the agreement signed by Kuwait and the Philippines in 2018.
The said agreement, which applied to all household service workers and skilled workers in the Gulf state, was supposed to guarantee the following:
- Employers cannot confiscate the passports and other travel documents of Filipino workers.
- Filipino workers must be allowed to use their phones.
- Transfer of workers to another employer should be with the consent of the Filipino worker or with the go-signal of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office.
The agreement – which came at the end of a diplomatic crisis over the gruesome murder of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis – sought to uphold the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino workers in the Gulf state. – Rappler.com