MANILA – Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III ordered a total ban in fielding or deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, after a surge of reports on abuses committed against migrant workers.
The latest violent incident involved the discovery of the remains of a Filipina in a freezer in an abandoned residential flat.
Secretary Bello made the announcement in a press briefing at his office in Manila before midday today. He was joined by the family of Joanna Demafelis, the Filipina whose remains were found in a freezer.
In his Administrative Order No. 54 Series of 2018, Secretary Bello said “In pursuit of national interest, and with the advent of the series of reports involving abuse and death of Overseas Filipino Workers on Kuwait, a total ban on deployment of all overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait pursuant to the directive of the President of the Philippines (Rodrigo Roa Duterte) is hereby enforced.”
Before the total ban, the Philippine government suspended the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait following reports of abuses, some of which resulted in deaths.
Earlier, President Duterte asked Kuwait-based Filipino workers who are distressed or those who wish to return home to take advantage of the free flights to be extended them in two to three days.
The Department of Labor and Employment is still studying the possibility of preventing workers on vacation to return to Kuwait. Malacanang was quoted saying Filipinos in Kuwait may opt to stay provided no abuses have been committed against their person.
Atty. Aristodes R. Ruaro, Deputy Administrator for Licensing and Adjudication of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said there are around 250,000-260,000 Filipinos working in Kuwat where over 180,000 are working as domestic helpers, considered most vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas reported the bulk of cash remittances for the first eleven months of 2017 which amounted to US$ 28.2 billion, came from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, Qatar, Kuwait, Germany and Hong Kong as the combined remittances from these countries accounted for 80.2 percent of total cash remittances. (Melo M. Acuna)