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Total ban to temporary for Filipino domestics seen – Decision awaited

Kuwait Secretary Abdullah Mamao

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 20: There is a possibility that the total deployment ban of Filipinos may be changed to a temporary ban of domestic workers only, disclosed Philippine Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) Concerns and Special Envoy to Kuwait Secretary Abdullah Mamao during his meeting with the Filipinos in Kuwait on Sunday.

Mamao outlined that he has been communicating with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte about the situation of the OFWs in Kuwait and the feedback of OFWs affected by the total deployment ban that was implemented following the death of Filipina household service worker Jeanelyn Villavende who was allegedly sexually abused and tortured to death by her Kuwaiti employers.

“Now, I got this information and the source of this information is coming from the very trusted ally of the President in the House of the Senate. We have to inform the government of the State of Kuwait that we are waiting for this particular development and we will be informing them accordingly the moment that particular decision has been taken by the Office of the President.

So from my understanding of the text message that I got from Senator Bong Go, the information is that the President will be imposing only a temporary ban on domestic workers so that is very clear then from the instruction I got from the Office of the President. So we have to wait for this development because of the action taken by no less than the President himself. So with this as an information, let’s wait maybe tomorrow and see what will be the official announcement from the Office of the President because this was based on our representation informing the Office of the President of the advantages of not pursuing the ban non-skilled, skilled and professional workers in the State of Kuwait,” stated Mamao.

He advised Filipinos in Kuwait to wait for the official announcement regarding the amendment to the total deployment ban, if ever there will be. On the other hand, Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced in an interview on a radio program “Radyo Pilipinas” in Manila on Monday that the total deployment ban stays and reiterated that no temporary ban has been decided yet as conveyed by Mamao. He clarified that he spoke with Mamao that the temporary deployment ban was Mamao’s recommendation to the Office of the President and this has to be assessed and studied carefully first, pending the discussion of the standard employment contract for household service workers between Kuwait and the Philippines.

Kuwait and the Philippines are set to sit down during the joint committee meeting next month to resolve labor related issues especially concerning the welfare and protection of Filipino household service workers. Under the total deployment ban, only the “Balik-Manggagawa” or returning skilled workers and professionals are exempted and can go on vacation to the Philippines and will be allowed to go back to Kuwait.

Meanwhile, aside from Mamao, present also at the meeting with the Filipino Community on Saturday were Presidential Consultant Atty Edwin Bael, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Hans Leo Cacdac, Philippine Charge d’ Affaires Mohd Noordin Pendosina Lomondot, Labor Attache to Kuwait Nasser Mustafa, Labor Attache Hector Cruz, Vice-Consul Charleson Hermosura, Vice-Consul Adrian Baccay, Welfare Officer Atty Llewelyn Perez and other Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) officials and staff. Mustafa called on all manpower recruitment agencies to beef up their monitoring system and regularly check on the working condition of their deployed workers most especially the household service workers who are more prone to abuses to avoid any untoward incident.

In addition to the total deployment ban, the Philippine officials also discussed the Philippine contingency plan amid tensions in the Middle East. Mamao gave the assurances of President Duterte that the Philippine government will exert all efforts to safeguard the safety and welfare of all Filipinos in the Middle East.

During the Filipino community meeting, Lomondot also assured Filipinos in Kuwait that the Embassy is preparing for any scenario in case the situation in the region does not improve. He disclosed to Filipino community leaders details of the Embassy’s Contingency Plan, such as possible evacuation routes and the names of area coordinators. Meanwhile, Cacdac also responded to queries and concerns from OFWs in Kuwait, in Cacdac arrived in Kuwait on Sunday from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to check the condition of the more than 250,000 Filipinos in Kuwait, which is currently under the Philippines’ Crisis Alert Level 1 (Precautionary Phase) due to the ongoing tensions in the Middle East.

He outlined the government’s programs for OFWs who wish to be repatriated to the Philippines due to the situation in the region, such as cash grants under OWWA’s “Balik-Pilipinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” program, jobs under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, and free training courses by TESDA. “We are ready to extend all possible assistance to all OFWs who need help,” assured Cacdac.

By Michelle Fe Santiago Arab Times Staff

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