Gov't open to halting deployment of new domestic workers to Kuwait

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Gov't open to halting deployment of new domestic workers to Kuwait
A staff member for an OFW deployment center talks on the phone in this undated file photo.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers said Wednesday it is open to halting sending new domestic workers to Kuwait, as the Philippines negotiates with the Gulf state to improve the existing labor agreement between the two countries with the goal of ensuring that overseas Filipino workers there are better protected.

“Secretary [Susan] “Toots” [Ople] is open and she supports your suggestion to impose a targeted ban,” Migrant Workers Undersecretary Maria Anthonette Velasco-Allones said in Filipino during a Senate hearing, in reply to Senate migrant workers panel chairperson Raffy Tulfo.

“So by that, we mean that the ban that would be imposed is for newly-hired household workers bound for Kuwait,” Velasco-Allones continued.

This was a reversal from Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople’s stance that favored labor diplomacy — or settling issues through official negotiations and talks — over a deployment ban.

Tulfo said earlier in the hearing that he was “dismayed” at Ople’s position on the deployment ban, which he said appeared to favor recruitment agencies.

“It’s unfortunate that Secretary Toots Ople and I don’t see eye to eye. I was expecting that her heart would be for OFWs because I thought she had a lot of experience in helping OFWs,” he said.

But Velasco-Allones claimed Ople never opposed Tulfo’s suggestion for another deployment ban for household workers in Kuwait and actually supported this.

“That’s why Secretary Toots said in the immediate, we should ban deployment in the meantime while negotiations are ongoing,” Velasco-Allones said.

The Senate hearing conducted by the Senate migrant workers and foreign affairs panels was triggered by the killing of OFW Jullebee Ranara allegedly at the hands of her employers’ 17-year-old son.

Ranara’s death is the latest among Filipino workers in Kuwait. 

The discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in her employers’ freezer in 2018 and the killing of Jeanelyn Villavenda in 2019 prompted deployment bans to Kuwait. These were lifted following negotiations between the Gulf nation and Manila.




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