Senate panels seek apology, deployment ban over OFWs deaths, abuses in Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines — Aside from imposing a deployment ban of newly-hired household service workers (HSWs) to Kuwait, two Senate panels want concerned parties to apologize for all recurring cases of abuse and murder committed against Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
In a 28-page report, the Senate committees on migrant workers and foreign relations that looked into the death of Filipino worker Jullebee Ranara recommended the deployment ban of HSWs to Kuwait “effective immediately and until new protective measures, as proposed herein, are incorporated.”
Ranara, who was allegedly killed by a 17-year-old son of her employer, was found burned in a dessert of Kuwait last January 21.
“The targeted deployment ban will be prospective and will not include OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) who have prior and existing employment in Kuwait,” according to the report.
Though two weeks after Ranara’s death was reported, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) already stopped processing applications of first-time Filipino domestic helpers bound for Kuwait.
The joint panels also saw the need to “revisit, review and evaluate” the country’s existing bilateral labor agreement (BLA) with Kuwait, noting the rising number of cases of abuse against OFWs even after a deployment ban was imposed in the past also due to the deaths of other domestic helpers in the Gulf State.
The DMW was also tasked to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs in relaying to the Kuwaiti government the “sentiments and concerns” of the Filipino people over all recurring cases of physical and financial abuse, maltreatment, non-payment of monetary benefits, and murder committed against OFWs.
They also asked the DMW to “seek the appropriate acknowledgment and apology from concerned parties.”
As the primary agency tasked to oversee OFWs, the DMW was also directed by the two panels to do the following:
- Conduct “purging” of accredited Philippine Recruitment Agency (PRA) and Foreign Recruitment Agency (FRA) and delisting dummies and agencies with records of repeated gross violations.
- Raise the minimum paid-up capital in setting up a PRA from P5 million to at least P30 million to P50 million
- Create a list of associations/organizations of OFWs, employees, and/or both, and require them to seek accreditation from the DMW
- Require direct employers to submit additional documentary requirements for application and qualification process like a resume, background history, medical certificate, police clearance, and picture of the working area of the HSW.
- Use information and communications technology to effectively monitor all OFWs in Kuwait and worldwide
- Call for the abolition of the ”kafala” system, similar to what have been undertaken in Bahrain and Qatar, and other forms of employment that have the same effect of limiting the protection that can be provided to OFWs