Kuwait lauded for OFW-friendly regulations

- Jose Rodel Clapano () - May 30, 2004 - 12:00am
Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. hailed yesterday plans by Kuwait to issue regulations to protect foreign maids from maltreatment and abuse, even as he urged the Philippine government to itself be more active in protecting the rights of Filipino workers abroad.

Villar, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said that Kuwait’s initiative demonstrates its commitment to look after the welfare of foreign workers.

"We appreciate the sensitivity of the Kuwaiti government to the plight of domestic maids in their country. We hope that Kuwaiti authorities would also expedite the pending cases of our Filipina maids in their local courts," he said.

Villar said that the new regulations would include provisions for a minimum wage, weekly rest day, overtime pay and limited working hours.

Villar noted that thousands of domestic helpers, mostly from the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia, escape from their employers because of alleged maltreatment and abuse.

Villar earlier exposed and denounced a series of rape incidents involving Filipino workers in Kuwait.

The first victim was raped by three minors and one adult in a private desert camp in the Wafra area.

The second victim was raped by three Kuwaiti policemen at the Sabah Al Salem police station, while the third and fourth victims were abducted and raped by armed men in Julia.

"How can our Filipino workers seek justice when the supposed agents of justice are the ones committing the crimes?" Villar said.

He said the Philippine government cannot turn a blind eye to the atrocities committed against Filipina workers abroad, as he urged officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to be more aggressive in pursuing legal actions against the suspects.

"The government should set aside its foreign policy of fear and show foreign countries that it can and will protect its nationals abroad," he said.

Villar said that it is important for the government to send a strong signal to countries with big populations of overseas Filipino workers that crimes against Filipinos will not go unpunished.

"We cannot expect foreigners to respect Filipino workers if the government would not give them importance in terms of providing financial and legal assistance to Filipino victims of crime," he said.

BANGLADESH AND INDONESIA DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT FILIPINA KUWAITI MANUEL VILLAR JR. SABAH AL SALEM SRI LANKA VILLAR WORKERS
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