KUWAIT CITY, Feb 14, (Agencies): The Philippines Department of Justice (DOJ) said Wednesday the Kuwait-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) currently on vacation are not affected by the deployment ban order issued by the President of the country, citing a directive issued by the Department of Labor and Employment to exempt this category of Filipinos. The statement added, the Kuwait-bound Filipinos, holding what it called, the short-term non-working visas will also be allowed to leave the country.
In the meantime, the Philippines Bureau of Immigration (BI) which is affiliated to the Department of Justice has instructed its port operations division to ensure Filipino workers returning to Kuwait are “properly documented and subjected to the usual immigration departure formalities.” Sources quoting government officials said following this development the OFWs who were on vacation can return to their jobs in Kuwait.
As for the new recruits, Jaime Morente, the BI Commissioner simply said, “Sorry, we cannot let you leave.” Earlier, the immigration officers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila had prevented more than a hundred Kuwait-bound OFWs from leaving the country following the total deployment ban announced by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The ban was announced by Duterte on the background of the deaths of 7 Filipino workers in Kuwait. ABS CBN reported that 200 vacationing Filipinos were initially denied clearances when they tried to return to Kuwait on Monday but were later given permission to leave. Bello had previously said that workers satisfied with their employment in Kuwait would not be forced to leave.
The CNN quoting Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said as of Wednesday, more than 900 Philippine workers had returned ‘home’ on chartered flights, while Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was quoted as saying during a press conference recently thousands of Filipinos had turned up at the embassy in Kuwait since Jan 29 to complete the repatriation process agreed with the Kuwait government.
In the meantime, Duterte was quoted as saying Tuesday, “I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here (in the Philippines),” after saying last week he was ready to take “drastic steps” to protect Filipinos working abroad and offered free flights home to about 10,000 Filipinos who have overstayed their visa in Kuwait.
The outspoken Kuwaiti MP Safa’a Al- Hashem blamed expats for the country’s diplomatic row with the Philippines over the treatment of workers and said foreigners should be banned from hiring maids. To support her statement, she cited the example of Joanna Demafelis who was reportedly killed by a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife, and whose body was found in a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait where it remained for more than a year after the two left Kuwait in November 2016 and was only discovered when police entered the apartment after a court order. * new.abs-cbn news. com,Kuwait+gulfnews,kyma.com
In a related development, Board Chairman of Kuwait Society for Human Rights Khalid Al-Humaidi said there are violations against domestic workers but not like the images spread on social networking sites or what has been depicted by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, reports Al-Jarida daily.
Speaking to the daily, Al-Humaidi affirmed that the Domestic Workers General Department in the Interior Ministry is keen on protecting the rights of these workers and enforcing the law on all of them. He added the society, ministry and relevant joint committees are working hard to protect the rights of domestic workers. He disclosed the violations include delayed salaries and no leave or rest days among several others.
On the discovery of the body of a Filipina in the freezer of her sponsor, Al- Humaidi said the landlord filed a case to vacate the apartment as the law bars him from entering the place. He then found the body of the household worker after obtaining permission from the court to enter the apartment, indicating that legal action is underway.