By Leslie Ann Aquino
A Catholic prelate prefers Kuwait than another country as destination for overseas Filipino workers.
Bishop Ruperto Santos, chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People, cited the newly signed memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Philippines and Kuwait on the protection of Filipino migrant workers as reason for this.
“It is better in Kuwait, with the MOA. And we hope and support that there will be like this, MOA, with other Gulf countries,” he said in an interview.
The Balanga prelate, however, urged both parties to fulfill and be faithful to the MOA.
“Respecting the MOA surely normalizes the relationship between our country and Kuwait. Promoting and protecting welfare and wellbeing of workers will be both for the best and beneficial to both countries,” Santos said.
The CBCP ECMI official expressed hope that there will be similar MOA with other Gulf countries.
Among the key features of the signed agreement are the provision of food, housing, clothing and registration in the health insurance system for domestic workers, as well as the use of cellular phones and other means to communicate with their families back home.
As stated in the MOU, the employer is also not allowed to keep the domestic workers’ personal identity documents such as passport as it is a property of the Philippine government and should not be in the possession of the employer.
Also, the MOU provides that the employer should open a bank account under the domestic worker’s name to allow the reasonable opportunity to remit his or her monthly salary to relatives in the Philippines, as provided in the employment contract.
On Wednesday, President Duterte ordered the total lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait Wednesday days after the signing of the MOA.
There are 262,000 documented OFWs in Kuwait of which 170,000 are household service workers.