DOLE: Kuwaiti government ready to negotiate OFW protection terms

MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Thursday, February 15, that the Kuwaiti government is now ready to negotiate the agreement on additional protection to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

In a DZMM interview on Thursday, Bello said that the total deployment ban "had a good effect" in fast-tracking the signing of the agreement. (READ: Experts divided on OFW deployment ban to Kuwait)

"Kahapon nagpunta si Ambassador. Third visit sa office ko. Ready na sila makipag-negotiate sa matagal nang nakabinbin na Memorandum of Understanding. Maganda 'yung epekto ng desisyon ng Presidente," Bello said.

(Ambassador (to the Philippines Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh) visited my office yesterday. It's his 3rd visit to my office. They are ready to negotiate the long pending Memorandum of Understanding. The decision of the President has good effects.)

The deployment ban had angered the Kuwaiti government which condemned the ban but said the Philippine government's move "would not serve the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines."

Bello backed President Rodrigo Duterte's decision of total ban, saying that the Kuwaiti government should give assurances that OFWs will not be maltreated by its employers.

"They should understand the position of the President. If you are the president of a worker whose body was full of iron marks and stored in a freezer, they should understand that the decision of the President is right," Bello said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"We need an assurance that those deployed won't experience what happened to Joanna Daniella Demafelis," he added.

On Monday, February 12, the labor department issued the ban days after Demafelis' body was discovered. (READ: Duterte lashes out at Kuwait over mistreatment of Filipino workers)

Hundreds of Filipino workers opted to be repatriated from Kuwait after the incident because of cases of abuses against domestic FIlipino workers there.

As of February 8, a total of 1,124 workers were issued with travel documents stamped with exit visas. Some 800 OFWs are scheduled to be home within the week.

There are an estimated 252,000 Filipino workers in the Gulf country, mostly working as domestic helpers.– Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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