Deal on Kuwait OFWs might be signed before May
HAINAN, China — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kuwait for better treatment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) might be signed before the holy month of Ramadan, which comes in May this year.
Bello told reporters in Hainan that he had finalized the MOU and was just waiting for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signal on when to sign it.
The President, he said, mightsign the agreement for the Philippines after the fasting month for Muslims.
“It should be within April because once we enter May, it would be Ramadan and [Kuwaiti officials] would not be available,” Bello said.
The President earlier banned the deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait after the discovery of the body of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis inside a freezer in Kuwait City.
Lebanese police arrested Demafelis’ former employer, Nader Essam Assaf in late February. A few days later, Syrian police nabbed Assaf’s Syrian wife, Mona Hassoun.
Sentenced in absentia
A court in Kuwait sentenced the couple to death in absentia last month.
The President had said he would lift the ban only if Kuwaiti authorities would agree to give OFWs better treatment.
He also said the Filipino workers’ passports must not be confiscated by Kuwaiti employers, as this is akin to holding them hostage.
The workers must be guaranteed adequate sleep, he said, noting that many Kuwaiti employers tended to work Filipinos to the bone and force them to serve families other than their employers’.
Filipino workers must also have a day off so they could go to church, the President said. Lamenting that domestic helpers were sometimes fed scraps, he said Kuwait must allow them to cook their own food. —Leila B. Salaverria
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