DMW might review labor agreement with Kuwait after killing of OFW

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
DMW might review labor agreement with Kuwait after killing of OFW
Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople speaks to reporters at the Senate on January 24, 2023.
Philstar.com / Xave Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines — Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople floated on Tuesday a possible review of the Philippines’ labor agreement with Kuwait to better secure overseas Filipino workers there following the brutal killing of yet another Filipino domestic worker.

"We will reach out to the Kuwaiti government. Maybe it’s time to review the 2018 bilateral labor agreement so that it would be similar to the bilateral agreement with Saudi Arabia which has more safeguards for our workers," Ople told reporters in a chance interview at the Senate.

The Philippines and Kuwait inked an agreement in 2018 guaranteeing certain rights of workers, including their right to keep their passports and mobile phones which are typically confiscated by employers in Gulf states.

This agreement was signed after the Philippines banned the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the discovery of the body of Filipino domestic worker Joanna Demafelis in her employers’ freezer that same year.

The killing of another Filipino domestic worker, Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende, triggered the Philippines to halt deployment to Kuwait again in January 2020, which was lifted the following month as charges were filed against her employers.

But the death of 35-year-old Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara’ — whose burnt body was found in the desert over the weekend — will not lead to a deployment ban.

"But, yes, we are looking at additional safeguards and reforms to make sure that our workers bound for Kuwait are better protected," Ople said.

She noted that the Kuwaiti government has been swift in taking under its custody the 17-year-old son of Ranara’s employers, who is the suspect in the OFW’s killing.

"The killing was brutal not because it was committed or wanted to be committed by the Kuwaiti government. Brutal because the employer’s son is a monster. For whatever reason, no country or no decent person would welcome such behavior," Ople said.

She added that the Philippine government has hired a lawyer in Kuwait who is working with Kuwaiti prosecutors on the case.

The secretary said she does not see any further delays in the repatriation of Ranara’s remains. She also said that Ranara’s family has been briefed about aid they will receive, including burial and death assistance, scholarships for the OFW’s children and insurance.




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