‘Workers on holiday will be stranded’
KUWAIT CITY, Jan 12: Philippine Labor Attache to Kuwait Nasser Mustafa expressed full support on the recommendation of Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III to implement a total deployment ban for Filipino workers to Kuwait following the autopsy result of Filipina household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende who was allegedly tortured to death by her Kuwaiti employers.
“If you ask me, I have to support the action of Secretary Bello because I believe the Secretary has a basis for that. If we look closely, our fellow Filipino really suffered inhumanely. I have to fully support the action of our good Secretary,” stated Mustafa.
Mustafa clarified that as of today, Jan 12, the partial deployment ban stays for newly hired household service workers bound for Kuwait and those returning HSWs whose previous contract expired and are returning to Kuwait under a new employer. “There is no total deployment ban yet awaiting the autopsy result of Jeanelyn Villavende that will be the basis of Secretary Bello’s recommendation for a total ban to the governing board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration,” he explained.
Mustafa outlined the possible implications of a total deployment ban that will also affect the skilled workers in Kuwait especially those who are going home for vacation or are on vacation in the Philippines now. “Should there be a total ban in Kuwait, all those who will be on vacation cannot come back to Kuwait, so this is not only the domestic workers but all category of workers will be covered. May they be newly hired, balik-manggagawa or returning OFWs, they will all be covered by the total ban,” stated Mustafa.
He added that he leaves it up to the worker’s discretion if he or she wants to go on vacation pending the Philippine government’s decision on the total deployment ban.
The looming total deployment ban generated varied reactions among Filipinos in Kuwait. “I haven’t seen any advisory yet that skilled workers cannot come back to Kuwait. Of course, I’m a bit wary but I believe our government will help us,” stated Katrine Tan who is fl ying to Manila today for her annual vacation.
In the meantime – the Filipino Association of Secretaries of Employment Agencies in Kuwait, a group composed of manpower agency secretaries that deploys household service workers in Kuwait held a Mass officiated by Rev Fr Ben Barrameda on Saturday at the Philippine Overseas Labour Office in Kuwait in honor of Villavende. The group has issued an appeal to the Philippine government.
By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff