Special envoy of Philippines president thanks Kuwaiti govt
MANILA, May 24, (Agencies): The government of the Philippines says another batch of more than 200 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait will soon be brought home, according to abs.cbn.news. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Wednesday, “By the end of this week, 235 of them will be flown in,” during the Senate inquiry on OFW abuses and deaths abroad.
Bello said these OFWs are among the 601 wards currently staying in two embassy shelters most of whom are facing charges or those who have cases against their employers. In the meantime, Abdullah Mama- o, special envoy of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to Kuwait, thanked the Kuwaiti government for allowing the embassy to have an additional shelter, because the first shelter could accommodate only about 300.
“As part of the commitment of the State of Kuwait, they are going to pay for the expenses of these 601,” Mama-o added. Until now, more than 5,000 what the Philippines called ‘OFWs in distress,’ have been repatriated under Kuwait’s amnesty program, officials said. Meanwhile, the government of the Philippines is also putting in place what it called ‘pre-departure information and education program’ for OFW bound for Kuwait, says arabnews.com quoting a Filipino labor official.
“The latest government effort,” Hans Leo J. Cacdac, administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) told Arab News, “should ensure that OFWs bound for Kuwait know their rights and responsibilities.” “We are also boosting our personnel complement in POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) Kuwait, through augmentation personnel and more regular plantilla personnel,” Cacdac added.
Labor and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani earlier commented that the labor situation in Kuwait, where there was high incidence of abuse and deaths especially among household workers, was partly due to lack of welfare officers to monitor the situation of OFWs.
Philippine-Kuwaiti diplomatic and labor relations hit their lowest last month, with the Filipino ambassador expelled and some embassy officials arrested, when videos of supposed rescue of distressed OFWs went viral and angered the Gulf nation for affronting its sovereignty.
Both countries, however, earlier this month signed an agreement that will further protect Filipino workers in Kuwait particularly household services workers, who can now keep their passports – or by embassy personnel – and also own mobiles phones aside from having a day off once a week. The Philippine government lifted the deployment ban to Kuwait last week. “We will be part of the POLO team that will monitor compliance with the MOA, particularly in the area of welfare and protection of OFWs,” Cacdac said.