MANILA, April 5, (Agencies): Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte might still accept Kuwait’s invitation to visit the country to check if the conditions he had earlier set to protect the welfare of his overseas workers (OFWs) are being implemented, Malacañang said on Wednesday, according to globalnation. inquirer.
The possible visit of Duterte to Kuwait which was discussed during the 24th Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace in Manila, Wednesday, centers on the Kuwaiti government’s treatment of Filipino domestic helpers, as both sides have worked on a deal to end a row triggered by deaths of overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the conditions include ending the practice of employers confiscating passports of “our” workers, giving them ample sleeping time (at least seven hours per day) a day off every week, allowing them to cook their own food and “absolutely no physical abuse.” Roque added the President “might proceed to Kuwait” if the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) can assure him that his conditions would be implemented.
Roque said the President wants passports of OFWs to be deposited at the Philippine Embassy instead of being confiscated. The chief executive wants the Kuwaiti government to assure that there would be “absolutely no physical abuse” of Filipino workers, said Roque.
Roque added, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is pushing to have these conditions included in the standard employment contract for all those deployed to Kuwait. Bello earlier said the government was working on coming up with a standard employment contract for Kuwait.
The standard.com. quoting Senator Joel Villanueva said the employers of murdered Filipina helper Joanna Demafelis (Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese national, arrested in Syria and handed over to Lebanon, and his Syrian wife Mona Hassoun who is in the custody of Damascus authorities) should be under Kuwait custody, according to “They should be made to face the consequences of what they have done in Kuwait before we can even think of any talk with the family of Joanna for forgiveness,” stressed Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development.
Villanueva said the government of Kuwait should work to end the kafala system under which (Filipino) workers cannot legally leave the country without the consent of their employers and running away from abusive employers is regarded as a criminal offence in Kuwait and other Arab countries. “Like other Gulf countries, Kuwait has adopted the notorious ‘kafala’ or sponsorship system which hinders the rights of our migrant workers,” the senator explained. Villanueva said the ‘kafala’ system had facilitated the abusive practice of altering the terms of employment contract of migrant workers or taking their passports and identifications as leverage.
“The conviction of Joanna’s employers should not stop us from scrutinizing the government’s labor policies to ensure that we put an end to this modern-day slavery,” said Villanueva as he hailed the decision of a Kuwaiti court to punish the employers by hanging to death.