By Genalyn Kabiling
Better protection for Filipino workers in Kuwait must be put in place before the government considers the lifting of the workers’ deployment ban to the Gulf state.
President Duterte issued the statement after vowing to ensure the protection of the rights and welfare of Filipino workers abroad during the Labor Day commemoration.
“For this year’s Labor Day, we are pushing for better protection of migrant workers especially those in the vulnerable groups such as the domestic helpers or workers or household service workers in the Middle East,” Duterte said during the Labor Day activity in Cebu City.
“All avenues to boost the level of protection for our kababayans abroad will be pursued, particularly those who are in Kuwait. We must also make sure that the necessary protection for the OFWs leaving for Kuwait are in place before they are allowed to be deployed,” he added.
The President recently ordered a ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the brutal killing of a Filipina worker in the Arab state. The two countries have since trying to craft a proposed labor protection agreement to prevent the maltreatment of workers in Kuwait.
The diplomatic tension however escalated when Kuwait protested the government’s clandestine rescue of Filipino workers from alleged abusive employers. The Philippine envoy has been expelled from Kuwait in protest of the Philippine embassy’s alleged undiplomatic acts.
Reacting to the latest conflict with Kuwait, the President has encouraged Filipino workers to come home and promised to find other jobs for them.
In his Labor Day address, the President said there would be “new set of rules” concerning the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
Duterte said he wants Filipino workers to get enough sleep, cook their own food, and be allowed to keep their cellphones and passports.
“They must be treated decently as a human being and they will be allowed or they must be allowed to sleep at least seven hours. Then they can cook their own food,” he said.
He also said there should be no more confiscation of the workers’ passports by the employers. “And they should be allowed to own a phone so that they can immediately ask for assistance if they are in trouble,” he added.
Malacañang recently clarified that the ban workers’ deployment to Kuwait was not permanent, contrary to the President’s remarks it would “stay permanently” following a conflict over the rescue video.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the deployment ban stays until the proposed labor protection agreement is signed by the two countries. “We’re trying to normalize as much as we could ties with Kuwait,” Roque said yesterday.