DFA wants ‘concrete action’ from Kuwait over OFW abuses

MANILA -- Following developments on the issue of reported abuses on Filipinos in Kuwait, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday said it called for a "concrete action" from the Kuwaiti government to address maltreatment suffered by Filipinos in their state.??

Upon instructions by DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, the agency urged its counterparts to facilitate the early conclusion of a bilateral labor agreement on the protection of Filipino household service workers.??

In a statement, DFA said it conveyed to Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaik "its strongest protest over the abuses and maltreatment, labor violations and the failure of Kuwaiti authorities to provide protection to Filipino nationals."??

Raul Dado, Executive Director for the DFA-Office of Migrant Workers Affairs, said "records show that abuses in Kuwait have persisted in spite of the Philippine government's effort to prosecute perpetrators of abuse and to negotiate a bilateral labor agreement."

??"The total ban on deployment stems from the President's decision to ensure that all OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) are protected in countries where they work," he said in a text message.??

Dado said Kuwait has a draft of the bilateral labor agreement but has not signed it yet, as he added that a positive development from recent events is that Kuwait would be made to negotiate from the strong position that President Rodrigo R. Duterte has taken on the issue.??

The warning of a total deployment ban to Kuwait floated in January following the case of seven Filipino household workers who reportedly died due to employers' abuse.??

Weeks later, another death of a Filipina in Kuwait was cited after the government confirmed the identity of the body discovered inside a freezer, believed to have been stored for over a year.??

On Monday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) signed an administrative order enforcing total deployment ban of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.??

With the chief executive's directives and the existing amnesty program granted by the Kuwaiti government for overstaying Filipinos, Dado noted that more OFWs will be repatriated in the coming weeks using the DFA-Assistance to Nationals Fund.??

There are more than 250,000 Filipinos in the state.

At present, DFA expects to repatriate around 10,000 Filipinos under the amnesty program.

??"More teams from the DFA are on the way to Kuwait now to augment the Embassy teams on the ground," he said.??

'Modern-day slave traders' next ??

While no update is given yet on the discussions for a Kuwait-Philippines labor agreement, Cayetano said the DFA and the DOLE for the meantime will "strictly carry out" the president's directive to prevent more workers from reaching the Gulf state.??

Cayetano, who co-chairs the Government Cluster on OFWs with DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III, said the DFA and the DOLE are also coordinating with other government agencies in taking steps to strictly implement the ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf state.??

Our efforts to protect our kababayans will not end with the imposition of deployment bans or the repatriation of our workers in countries where they are prone to maltreatment, he said.??

We will also go after illegal recruiters, human traffickers and other modern-day slave traders who continue to victimize our people. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency