2 senators express sentiments on PH-Kuwait labor pact
The deal that the Philippines and Kuwait have signed should not just stay in papers.
Senator Joel Villanueva, chairman of the Senate committee on labor and employment, said this on Friday as he commended the efforts of the two nations in forging an agreement that would ensure better protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)
“The MOA (memorandum of agreement) which provides for the creation of a special unit that will receive complaints from our aggrieved OFWs, prohibits employers from confiscating workers’ passports, and entitles workers to one-day off every week, should not just be in paper as no less than the labor laws of Kuwait guarantees better labor conditions for our OFWs including the prohibition on confiscation of workers’ passports,” he said in a statement.
“We hope that with this current agreement, closer coordination and strict enforcement of Kuwaiti labor laws can prevent abuses against our OFWs.”
Villanueva then urged the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Labor and Employment and other concerned agencies to be proactive in engaging the Kuwaiti government and set up coordinative mechanism to ensure that our OFWs are given the necessary protection and welfare they deserve.”
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, described the signing of the agreement as an “important milestone” in the country’s fight for rights of the 260,000 OFWs stationed in Kuwait.
“The Department of Foreign Affairs, along with the senior state officials who helped make the final push, deserve credit for persevering and closing this deal despite the recent difficulties between our countries,” Gatchalian said in a separate statement.
“Moving forward, our government must do everything in its power to ensure that the OFW rights enshrined in the agreement are upheld by the Kuwaiti government.”
To operationalize these rights, he said, the Philippine government should work with the proper Kuwaiti authorities to establish effective enforcement mechanisms that will ensure compliance with the agreement and impose tough sanctions on offenders.
“Otherwise, the MOA will become a mere ‘paper tiger,’” Gatchalian said.
The DFA, he said, should also be “proactive” in negotiating similar deals with countries that have yet to establish adequate safeguards for the rights of OFWs stationed there.
“OFWs across the world need to know that their government is looking out for them,” the senator added. /jpv
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