Deal gives new terms for OFWs in Kuwait but ban stays
Filipino workers in Kuwait will now be allowed to keep their mobile phones, collect their salaries through banks and deposit their passports with Filipino officials, but the ban on new contracts in the emirate will have to stay.
“I am not about to lift” the ban, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said after a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) was reached with visiting Kuwaiti labor officials.
Bello said the ban would remain until Kuwait filed charges against the employers of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was recently found stuffed in a freezer in Kuwait a year since she went missing.
President Rodrigo Duterte ordered a ban against the deployment of new workers to Kuwait on Feb. 12 after the discovery of Demafelis’ body.
Bello said the MOU was finalized late Friday and included a provision that the contracts of domestic helpers would be in accordance with Philippine laws.
Bello, however, also wanted to blacklist employers who were proven to have abused Filipino workers.
“I’m not prepared to lift the ban for household service workers. I may consider (lifting the ban on) skilled workers,” Bello said. “So long as we see that everything is being done in earnest.”
“The first stage would be for them to extradite (the suspects) and file charges,” Bello said, referring to Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese national, and his Syrian wife Mona Hassoun, who had been arrested but remained in the custody of Lebanese and Syrian authorities.
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