DMW stops deployment of first-time domestic helpers to Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has temporarily stopped processing applications of first-time Filipino domestic helpers bound for Kuwait.
This developed in light of the gruesome murder of Jullebee Ranara, the overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was reportedly killed by the son of her Kuwaiti employer.
DMW chief Susan Ople said in a statement Wednesday that applications for household services in Kuwait will be suspended “until after significant reforms have been made resulting from upcoming bilateral talks with the said country.”
“Iyong mga baguhan, never before nag-work as kasambahays abroad or yung nag-work as kasambahays pero hindi sa Kuwait ay kailangan maghintay muna dahil nais tiyakin ng department na may mas maayos na monitoring at mas mabilis na response system in place bago sila tumungo doon,” she said.
(The first-timers who had never worked as domestic helpers abroad before or those who worked as domestic helpers but not in Kuwait need to wait until the department can ensure that we can properly monitor and hasten the response system in place before they are deployed.)
Ople noted that the DMW has not yet resorted to imposing a total deployment ban, “because there are actual OFWs who have already worked in Kuwait for several years who still want to go back to their old employers or seek new ones.”
“We have also been informed through diplomatic channels of the willingness of the Kuwait government to engage in bilateral labor talks. We are preparing well in advance for these talks, bringing with us an accumulation of abuse done over the years, hence the need for significant changes,” she added.
‘Targeted’ deployment ban
DMW Undersecretary Anthonette Velasco-Alones first raised this move during an earlier hearing of the Senate committees on migrant workers and foreign relations on the case of Ranara’s brutal killing.
Senator Raffy Tulfo, who presided over the hearing, first lamented how Ople had shot down his recommendation to impose a deployment ban to Kuwait.
“I said I want a deployment ban, kinontra niya ako. I was only suggesting. I don’t know kung bakit mas pinapaboran niya iyong mga polisiyang para matulungan ang recruitment agency,” he said.
(I said I want a deployment ban, she opposed me. I was only suggesting. I don’t know why she’s favoring the policies that will help recruitment agencies.)
READ: Refusal to issue deployment ban to Kuwait not a ‘sign of weakness’ — DMW
But according to Alones, Ople did not oppose the possibility of imposing a deployment ban, noting that a fact-finding team was sent to Kuwait on Tuesday, February 7, to gather information from the ground that will help create evidence-based labor policies concerning OFWs.
Tulfo then asked who the DMW could be protecting with its hesitant stance on the deployment ban, citing the increasing OFW welfare cases in the middle eastern country.
“Kumbinsido kami roon sa risk na hinaharap ng ating domestic workers. Linawin ko lang, actually, bukas si Sec. Toots at suportado niya ang panukala niyo na mag-impose ng targeted [deployment] ban,” Alones said.
(We are convinced about the risks that our domestic workers are facing. I just want to clarify, actually, Sec. Toots is open and supports your proposal to impose a targeted deployment ban.)
She said this will call for a temporary halt on the processing of new Kuwait-bound OFW household workers, while the Philippine government is seeking to review and discuss its labor agreement with the Gulf State.
“Iyong bulto ng ating mga problema na nagkakaroon ng pagmamaltrato ay nandoon sa mga new hire na umaalis. Kaya ang sabi ni Sec. Toots, in the immediate, ito ay ating i-ban muna habang may pag-uusap na nagaganap. Iyong aming panukala ay magkaroon ng deferment ng pag-process ng mga new hire for Kuwait, particularly for household workers, para immediately ma-address natin ito,” Alones said.
(The bulk of our problems on OFW maltreatment are on new hires. That’s why Sec. Toots said she is seeking an immediate ban while the talks are ongoing. Our proposal is to defer the processing of new hires for Kuwait, particularly for household workers, to immediately address this.)
Tulfo then asked if this was “tantamount to a deployment ban,” to which Alones responded in the affirmative.
The neophyte senator had also broached the idea of forming an association for OFW employers and a separate association for OFWs, which would regularly hold dialogue on their concerns.
The heinous murder of Ranara fueled clamor to reimpose a deployment ban for OFWs to Kuwait, but Ople said that she does not see the need for such as she argued that “social dialogue” is the “all-important first step in resolving labor migration concerns.”
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