By Leslie Ann Aquino
The decision of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on whether to lift the suspension or not the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait will be known this week.
“Anytime this week we would be coming up with our decision on whether to make the suspension a ban or to lift it depending on the report. Of course in close coordination with the Office of the President, which has the final say because of our President,” Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a press briefing Monday.
Last month, the Labor Secretary suspended the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the deaths of seven overseas Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
In Administrative Order No. 25, Bello directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to stop the processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) to all Kuwait-bound workers pending the investigation of the cause of deaths of the Filipino workers.
Earlier, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte also threatened to withdraw all OFWs from Kuwait if another migrant Filipina worker dies from abuse.
According to Bello, they were still waiting for the report with recommendations regarding the investigation on the recent deaths of OFWs in Kuwait.
He then appealed to aspiring OFWs who have pending applications for the OEC to be more patient.
“We have to appeal to our future OFWs, who have pending applications for the OEC, to wait for more time because I would want to be sure that if we would deploy them in Kuwait they would be in safe hands,” Bello said.
“We cannot gamble with the lives of our workers. We do not want time to come that we have a fellow Filipino who was raped or abused. You heard our President and his strong words for our OFWs,” he added.
Meanwhile, the labor department revealed that more than 600 OFWs have already been rendered jobless in Qatar.
“We looked at the companies where these Filipinos worked, and, apparently, a lot of them are owned by Saudi companies. So this might be on face value a divestment of Saudi from Qatar. So until the political issues is there, it is always a threat with Filipinos. We are closely observing this,” DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III said.
DOLE assured those who were retrenched of help.
“If they want to come home then we would have to repatriate them. And waiting for them is our reintegration program,” said Bello.
The displacement stemmed from the recent diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).