News from home: P30,000 aid for affected Kuwait OFWs, Gloria demoted at House

Kaycee Valmonte - Philstar.com
News from home: P30,000 aid for affected Kuwait OFWs, Gloria demoted at House
This August 3, 2022 handout photo from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait shows the repatriation of 288 Filipinos from Kuwait.
Philippine Embassy in Kuwait Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines — From affected overseas Filipino workers supposedly bound for Kuwait receiving financial from the goverment to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s not-so-glorious week at the House of Representatives — these were among our headlines and news stories from the past week we think you should know if you’re a Filipino based abroad. 

Overseas Filipinos

  • The Philippines sent a delegation to Kuwait earlier this week to negotiate the visa suspension for Filipinos, which Migrante International said affected at least 130 OFWs daily. The Department of Migrant Workers said affected workers will get P30,000 in aid from the government.

    The Gulf state is apparently not happy with Manila sheltering runaway and distressed OFWs via the foreign service post there. Diplomats, along with senior officials from the DMW and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, underscored that all actions taken by the Philippine government are only for the safety and welfare of Filipinos.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs stressed the shelters are a “non-negotiable” as it is mandated by Philippine law but said the Philippines “remains open to constructive dialogue.” 
  • The family of the 38-year-old Filipino domestic worker who fell to her death while cleaning the window of her employer’s apartment will receive “full assistance and support.” It is not clear why the OFW was asked to clean the window of her employer when it is not allowed in a standard employment contract.
  • The House of Representatives has approved on final reading a measure to cut down the minimum number of human trafficking perpetrators to two instead of three and to redefine the definition of an illegal recruitment syndicate.

Work and the economy

  • President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. renewed the agreement of the Malampaya project’s service contract, extending the production of the gas field to a final 15 years amid a looming power crisis.
  • A lawmaker at the House of Representatives filed a bill seeking to improve the labor conditions of BPO industry workers.

    Should it pass into law, the industry would be mandated to provide additional benefits to BPO workers such as a uniform minimum wage for entry-level positions and access to medical benefits as soon as they are employed.
  • Meanwhile, at the Senate, a proposal to allow foreign tourists to get a rebate of the 12% value-added tax is floated in a bid to “boost visitor arrivals in the Philippines.” This would mean that tourists can get a refund on goods that cost at least P3,000 from authorized retailers within 60 days after shopping.

Politics and the nation

  • Drama at the lower house unfolded last week after Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo (Pampanga) was demoted to deputy speaker on Monday. Her statement on late Thursday evening said talk that she is plotting a coup against House Speaker Martin Romualdez is not true. 

    In a separate statement on Sunday, Romualdez — without mentioning Macapagal-Arroyo — said “occassional moves to destabilize the House should be nipped in the bud” and said fellow lawmakers should be focusing on addressing the Filipinos’ everyday woes such as the energy and cost of living crises. 
  • Following the ruckus at the lower house, vice President Sara Duterte resigned from Lakas-CMD, which Romualdez leads and where Arroyo is president emerita. Without mentioning either though, Duterte said she will continue to lead and that “cannot be poisoned by political toxicity or undermined by exercrable powerplay.”
  • Rainy season in the Philippines is expected to start by the end of the week with tropical storm “Mawar” seen to enter the country’s monitoring area either by Friday or Saturday.
  • Marcos Jr. might visit Australia in March next year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ASEAN-Australia Dialogue Relations. Details of the possible trip have yet to be made available, while a bilateral visit for Marcos Jr. to Australia and for Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese “is also possible at a mutually agreed date.” 
  • The Supreme Court reaffirmed that the Anti-Violence against Women and their Children can also protect women in lesbian relationships, reiterating a 2013 ruling that states the law protects all women regardless of their partner’s sex or gender. 

You can view last week’s rundown here or sign up for the newsletter here.

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