Philippine embassy officials implicated in maid trafficking Labor attache denies allegations

KUWAIT CITY, Oct 12: The Philippine Labor Office of the Philippines Embassy in Kuwait has been implicated in the recent arrest of runaway household helpers and employees of placement agencies for domestic helpers in Kuwait.

The arrest led to an expose of the rampant practice of trafficking of runaway Filipino household helpers allegedly orchestrated by so called “privileged” secretaries of recruitment agencies and officials of the labor office.

The Labor Attaché of the Philippines Embassy in Kuwait Atty. Vivo Vidal vigorously denied the allegations, according to a reliable source, adding Vidal said his office is not engaged in the business of allowing runaway Filipina household helpers be released to other recruitment agencies other than to the recruitment agencies that deployed them to Kuwait and that the embassy shelter is a holding area where runaway household helpers are provided with adequate services like legal, spiritual, medical as well as personal needs.

According to the source, Vidal explained that the Labor Department informs local authorities whenever runaway Filipina household helpers are released to their respective recruitment agencies and that his office has no information whatsoever of the deals being made by the secretaries of these agencies with the so called “new employers”.

Vidal also clarified the issue that domestic helpers are released to their respective agencies yet the same agencies sell these domestic helpers to other agencies and the labor office is finding it difficult to monitor their whereabouts or conditions. He further reiterated that the labor department has no idea as to the amounts asked by the agencies from the employers and that the two Filipina employees who were arrested and currently detained are not employees of his office but secretaries of recruitment agencies.
Vidal reportedly admitted that his office is aware of the issue and has instituted measures to stamp out the nefarious practice and banned recruitment agencies found guilty. “Our main concern is the safety and welfare of our nationals — particularly, vulnerable domestic helpers, concluded Vidal.
The source also added that one of the secretaries who was among those in the group netted in the raid said that the two employees charged with harboring the runaways, work as secretaries of local recruitment agencies and were arrested for allegedly providing shelter and employment to runaway domestic helpers released to them by the embassy labor office.

The said secretary added that such routine has been going on for some time and that the labor office has been criticized by other secretaries of recruitment agencies and compatriots for condoning the illegal practice. The secretary pointed out in particular the issue of taking runaway household helpers out of the shelter and finding them new employers willing to pay between KD 300 to KD 500 despite the household helpers is facing legal cases such as absconding or theft.

The secretary also added that the labor office of the embassy released runaway household helpers to one of the two accused agency secretaries and provided accommodation in the residence the other secretary, who reportedly went into hiding. The bust netted twenty six Filipino nationals along with foreign workers who were arrested with them and brought to the Central Intelligence Department in Shuwaikh for questioning.

“Some of us who were found innocent were released shortly but one of the secretaries involved in the case was detained along with the sister of the other Filipina who is in hiding. I am very disgusted for having been dragged into this scandal as well as the recruitment agency I represent in Kuwait and Philippines. These secretaries had no respect for the law and would stop at nothing but extort money from decent and innocent employers. The labor department must do something to put a stop to this abhorrent practice,” fumed the secretary.

By: Boie Conrad Dublin

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