Amid visa issue, gov’t brings home 78 more OFWs from Kuwait
MANILA, Philippines — The government continued its repatriation of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, amid lingering questions over the Gulf nation’s sudden suspension of new entry visas for Filipinos for alleged labor agreement violations.
A total of 78 OFWs, arriving in two groups, were flown home from Kuwait by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on the night of May 12, the agency said on Saturday.
The first batch of 58 workers was met by OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio while the rest were met by Deputy Administrator Honey Quiño.
Prior to Friday’s flights, the last mass repatriation of Filipinos from Kuwait was carried out from April 19 and April 21, with a total of 150 OFWs arriving from the oil-rich state.
Philippine officials have yet to receive an official explanation from Kuwait for the suspension of new entry visas. An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs interviewed by the Inquirer on Friday said what had been communicated was only the decision to suspend, without supporting details.
Kuwaiti media reports on Wednesday, quoting a source from the interior ministry, cited “alleged violations of labor agreements” as the reason, mainly the continued Philippine operation of shelters and rescue efforts for OFWs reporting their abusive employers in Kuwait.
Philippine labor relations with Kuwait have been strained in recent years due to rising complaints of maltreatment, mostly of Filipino domestic helpers.
The Department of Migrant Workers in February imposed a ban on the deployment of first-time Filipino domestic helpers to Kuwait following the gruesome death of Jullebee Ranara at the hands of her employer’s son.