MANILA, Oct 1: The House committee on overseas workers affairs chaired by Rep. Jesulito Manalo (Party-list, Angkla) batted for a temporary deployment ban of Filipino Household Service Workers (HSWs) to Kuwait because of cases of maltreatment and abuses of HSWs, says a press release from the Philippines House of Representatives.
In a hearing conducted this week, the committee approved a motion of Rep Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City) for a temporary deployment ban of HSWs to Kuwait after committee members raised cases of maltreatment and abuse of HSWs in Kuwait.
The ban would be implemented by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employmnent (DOLE), and other concerned agencies, according to the committee. Castelo’s motion was duly seconded by Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin and carried out by Manalo.
All committee members present supported the said motion due to the alarming number of distressed HSWs in Kuwait. Committee vice-chairperson Rep Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija) and Rep Aniceto Bertiz III (Partylist, ACTS OFW) raised several cases of maltreatment and abuse of HSWs in Kuwait during a briefing of concerned agencies such as the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) under theDFA, and the DOLE and its attached agencies namely Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The briefing was requested by Manalo so he can be apprised on the plight of OFWs, being the new chairman of the committee on overseas workers affair. As early as Nov 16, 2016, Bertiz, the lone representative of OFWs in the 17th Congress, filed House Resolution 558 seeking an inquiry, in aid of legislation, into the plight of OFWs-HSWs in Kuwait and into the oft-repeated demand of Filipino organizations in Kuwait for a ban or moratorium on HSWs deployment. Bertiz followed this up with the filing of House Resolution 1135 last July 20, 2017 which seeks an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the abuse and maltreatment of OFWs/domestic workers.
Bertiz’s resolution also seeks to establish accountability among government officials and a review of the present system, laws and regulations to determine their weaknesses in the deployment of vulnerable workers,and to consider new approaches such as ban on their deployment, among others, in order to protect their welfare.
Meanwhile, Rep Rosemarie Arenas (3rd District, Pangasinan) also brought up during the hearing the case of an OFW in Kuwait that she’s been handling for a long time, which remains resolved until now. Rep Rodel Batocabe (Party-list, Ako Bicol) said there should be standards or parameters to be set by the DFA in the issuance of a deployment ban or moratorium. These will also guide the government in identifying whether a country is safe for deployment of Filipino workers. It was also discussed during the hearing that the temporary ban can be lifted once the loopholes on the deployment of the vulnerable sector are fully addressed and that their welfare and protection are assured.