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Palace OKs total deployment ban on Kuwait OFWs

/ 05:54 AM January 18, 2020

President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the imposition of a total deployment ban on Kuwait-bound Filipino workers amid findings that a slain Filipina domestic worker was also sexually abused.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President greenlighted Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III’s recommendation for a deployment ban on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the Gulf state.

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“The President is for a total ban until the memorandum of agreement between the two countries is fully implemented and the terms contained therein are incorporated in every labor contract with our OFWs,” Panelo said.

The Palace official was referring to a 2018 agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait, which seeks to protect OFWs there from abuses at the hands of their employers.

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He claimed that the Kuwait government “was attempting to hide” the real circumstances behind the death of OFW Jeanelyn Villavende, who died in December last year.

An autopsy by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Villavende suffered sexual abuse and sodomy before she died of alleged torture at the hands of her employers.

Panelo said the findings “mean that the Kuwaiti government was attempting to hide the said circumstance when it gave us a general autopsy report that the cause of death was trauma and bruises all over her body.”

Villavende’s death happened more than a year after the Philippines and Kuwait signed an agreement to protect OFWs in May 2018.

It was a deal that was prompted by the killing of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was stuffed in a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

Prior to the 2018 Kuwait-Philippines agreement, the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban on OFWs bound for Kuwait in the aftermath of Demafelis’ murder.

This year’s deployment ban to Kuwait covers household service workers, semi-skilled workers, skilled workers and professionals, including crew changes and shore leaves of Filipino seafarers.However, OFWs who were able to secure their overseas employment certificate before Jan. 15 can still fly to Kuwait.

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OFWs already in Kuwait may stay on to finish their contracts.

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TAGS: Bello, Deployment Ban, DOLE, Kuwait, Labor, OFW
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