Permanent ban sought on ‘abusive’ countries

The Philippine Star
Permanent ban sought on âabusiveâ countries

Sen. Cynthia Villar over the weekend said the government should impose a permanent ban on countries mostly in the Middle East, which have recorded a high incidence of abuse of Filipinos, particularly household service workers.  Joven Cagande

MANILA, Philippines — Senators are urging President Duterte to make permanent the ban on the deployment of Filipino housemaids to Kuwait and to expand this to countries with high rates of abuse.

Sen. Cynthia Villar over the weekend said the government should impose a permanent ban on countries mostly in the Middle East, which have recorded a high incidence of abuse of Filipinos, particularly household service workers.

“The government knows these countries that are abusive to our domestic helpers so let’s not send them there because they’ll be victimized,” Villar said.

She said the “culture” in certain Middle East countries is “really different” so the deployment of Filipino household workers there often pose problems for their families and the government.

The senator said 80 percent of the problematic cases handled by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other concerned agencies involve overseas Filipino household service workers.

“If they (Filipino domestic workers) are not deployed, then 80 percent of the government’s problem on OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) are gone,” Villar said.

She expressed support for Duterte’s deployment ban on Kuwait.

Detained Sen. Leila de Lima called on the Duterte administration to provide measures for the integration of hundreds of OFWs displaced due to the continued diplomatic row between Qatar and its neighboring countries.

De Lima said the DOLE and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should swiftly implement their contingency plans to assist OFWs and their families in the Philippines.  

“The government should ensure that OFWs would be assisted in finding decent jobs back home or other overseas destinations, if not help them set up business and livelihood in the country,” she said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian noted that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia appeared to have the most number of recorded cases of abuse of OFWs.

Gatchalian pushed for bilateral agreements between the government and host countries to protect OFWs. Existing pacts should be reviewed, he said.

He noted professionals who work in the Middle East are less prone to abuse so the government should only ban sending Filipino women to work as domestic helpers abroad.

Vice President Leni Robredo is pushing for the immediate signing of the bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait that seeks to increase protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf nation.

Robredo also backed yesterday Duterte’s decision to impose a deployment ban on Kuwait following reports of abuses against Filipino household workers in the country.

Robredo, however, underscored the importance of the pending bilateral agreement, which she hopes would be signed by the two governments when Duterte’s visit to Kuwait pushes through.

The Vice President noted that while repatriation has begun for OFWs there, measures must be in place to protect more than 250,000 Filipinos who may still wish to continue working there.

“I hope his visit will put pressue on the Kuwait government to sign it,” Robredo said in her weekly program BISErbisyong Leni over radio dzXL.

“Because even if there’s deployment ban and repatriation, the reality is there are some Filipinos, who have not experienced abuses, who wouldn’t want to go home because they are thinking of their employment. So we need to ensure that Filipinos who will stay in the country will really be protected,” she said. 

Kuwait has invited Duterte for a visit amid issues involving the treatment of Filipino domestic helpers in the country.

Earlier, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Kuwait Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh, who has met recently with the President in Malacañang, has committed to help expedite the signing of the agreement.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Cacdac, who was Robredo’s guest in her radio program yesterday, said a draft of the bilateral agreement for OFWs’ protection has been sent to the Kuwaiti government, which is now awaiting its signing.

Cacdac also said the Kuwaiti government’s invitation to Duterte is “one of the indicators” of talks over such agreement.

Robredo said the suspension of OFW deployment to Kuwait is a “strong response” to reports of violence against Filipino workers.

A body of a missing Filipino household worker was recently discovered inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait City.

“I think the President did the right thing. It’s really a strong statement amid the violence committed against Filipino domestic helpers there,” Robredo said.

According to the DFA, more than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, most of them as domestic helpers. With Helen Flores



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