'Duterte’s instant total ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait misses the point'

Dubai: The Philippines’ “total ban” on the deployment of their citizens to Kuwait misses the point, a migrants advocate group said, even as the move has stirred up fear among OFWs in the oil-rich country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to ban the deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait kicked off on Monday, February 12, blocking the travel of some 300 Filipino workers flying each day to the Gulf nation.

Many Filipinos hailed the ban as a sign of Duterte’s “strong leadership”, while others riled against the move as mere "grandstanding".

The ban hogged the headlines and came days after the horrific discovery of a Filipina housemaid’s body in a freezer inside an abandoned apartment in Hawalli, outside Kuwait City.

However, even Filipino diplomats admit that the vast majority of Filipinos in Kuwait are doing fine and are sought after by employers.

And despite Duterte’s threat of a ban last week, numerous jobs are still on offer in Kuwait specifically looking for Filipinos.

Why the GCC would not be the same without Filipinos

A member of the “Pilipino sa Kuwait” (PSK) Facebook group posted an urgent message: “Required for a Lebanese family a nanny/helper from 7am till 7:30pm preferred Philippino (sic) with experience to start immediately. Salmiya block 4. Slaray 150KD. Please call …. If anyone can assist! Thank you.”

On Monday, the ban stirred up panic among Kuwait-based Filipino workers as well as their relatives back home.

PSK member Jhonas Villarba has posted a message on the same group asking for help for his wife Lovelyn, who works as a housemaid.

Other Filipinos used the group to rile against Philippine embassy staff, especially about dropped calls.

A screenshot of messages posted on the Pilipino sa Kuwait group. — Facebook

Barbie, a member of the PSK, wrote in text-speak in Tagalog: “You call the Philippines embassy 10 times, no one picks up the phone. That’s why many of us die here. Emergency calls are never answered. That’s why those who run away from their employers end up on the streets, fall into the wrong hands… to men. No choice because no one helps.”

Total or partial?

The language used — "total ban" — widely reported by the Philippine media, has caught offguard numerous Kuwait-based OFWs taking a holiday in the Philippines.

Until late Monday, it was not clear if the ban covers vacationing skilled Filipino workers, too. A total ban on deployment would scuttle the livelihood of many OFWs.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa, in an interview on Monday, said: "From what I understand, 'total ban' is like Alert Level 4 — based on our system of alert levels. Under this level, it means even those who are spending their annual vacation in the Philippines will no longer be allowed to return to their worksite, wherever that is."

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Villa said: "The only thing we can do now is to seek clarification from our Department of Labor and Employment and let them know the concerns, especially of our skilled workers (in Kuwait)."

But if only a partial ban is adopted, "total ban" turns to smoke.

Pacquiao joins the fray

Meanwhile, top politicians including boxer Manny Pacquio, a member of the Philippine Senate, pounced on the frozen body story.

Pacquiao was quoted by Manila's GMA TV network as saying he will be satisfied if the death penalty is imposed on the abusive Kuwaiti employers.

However, the employers of the Filipina whose chopped-off body was reportedly frozen are not Kuwaitis: the man is Lebanese and the wife a Syrian.

The couple had reportedly absconded from Kuwait leaving a trail of bounced-cheque cases.

Kuwaiti authorities are now working with Interpol to track the employers of Filipina Joanna Daniela Demafelis, 29, whose body was found in the freezer. 

Demafelis' kin in Iloilo last heard from her in late 2016, around the time the man and his wife reportedly flew out of Kuwait.

Grandstanding

Rex Varona of the Migrant Forum for Asia (MFA), a non-government organization, dismissed Pacquio’s call as mere “grandstanding.”

“Fact #1: When Pacquiao was the Vice Chairman of the Committee on OFW Affairs of the past Congress (chaired by ex-Congressman Walden Bello), he had zero or next-to-zero attendance in committee meetings.”

Varona added: “In the various committee hearings held to discuss what can be done to curb abusive recruiters, employers, and for the rape or murder victims among OFWs, Pacquiao was absent. Now, you (Pacquaio) are ranting about death penalty.”

MFA, which works with domestic workers from different Asian countries, also works with the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the International Organisation for Migration.

The group is helping set up OFW cooperatives, including the first cooperative of Filipina domestic workers recognized by the Hong Kong government set up nine years ago.

Not the first time

It’s not the first time the Manila has slapped a deployment ban. Many Filipinos escaping poverty at home, however, have always found a way around it, often with the help of job agents and employers.

In 2012, for example, Manila authorities stamped Philippine passports with the notice: “Not valid for travel to Iraq.”

While the move curbed Filipinos’ deployment to Iraq, defence contractors and private Iraqi companies have found an easy way around the ban — by recruiting Filipino workers for all sort of jobs through other countries.

In imposing the February 12 ban, Duterte cited cases of abuse and maltreatment, including a high-profile case of a Filipina domestic helper committing suicide.

“The ban will simply stop the deployment of 300 OFWs to Kuwait each day,” said Varona.

Kuwait is home to more than 250,000 Filipino expatriates, according to recent estimates, the third-largest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, after Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“The OFWs who are still there are vulnerable. Where is (President Rodrigo) Duterte, (Senator Manny) Pacquiao, (Foreign Secretary) Allan Cayetano, and (Labour Secretary Silvestre) Bello in the process of the UN, International Labour Organisation, the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, Colombo Process, and bilateral negotiations with the Gulf and other countries in the Middle East?”

“These are the venues where reforms are being forged to protect OFWs, like the reforms adopted in the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, etc. They (officials) are just not there,” said Varona.

Reforms

“Fact #2: What is the use of a deployment ban, if this will not lead to the essential reforms in policy and practice in Kuwait and other destination countries? This instant ban is a mere grandstanding and the work of a lazy (Philippine) president and government. The instant ban is not part of negotiations for reforms.”

Duterte’s call for host countries to respect the Filipina household workers’ human rights has now become “laughable” too, due to the Philippine strongman’s disdain for the human rights of his own people — especially the poor and small fries merely suspected of being part of drugs trade.

Respect for human rights

“The Philippine has no leverage and it looks laughable for Duterte to say ‘respect human rights of OFWs’, or that ‘OFWs are not slaves’. For decades, the migrant advocates, domestic worker organisations had been working for these in the destination countries, alongside employers at recruiters.”

“On the other hand, Duterte says ‘To hell with the UN’, ‘To hell with human rights’, besides the consistent rape at sexist jokes he spews out against women. What credibility does the Philippines have now to ask for the protection of human rights ng Filipino domestic workers? You reap what you sow.”

“So I beg to disagree with Duterte, Pacquiao, Cayetano, Secretary Bello that their laughable grandstanding and lazy imposition of ban without leveraging negotiation for reforms — shows ‘strong leadership’. These are all hollow and will not end the abuse, rape, exploitation of OFWs.”

Some 800 overseas Filipino workers die and sent home in caskets each year. Most of them die of natural causes.

 

Source: GulfNews

Duterte offers govt help to Philippine workers in Kuwait

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday pledged government help to evacuate Filipinos wanting to leave Kuwait, blasting the Gulf state for "inhuman" treatment of migrant workers after reports of a gruesome killing in the country.

Duterte, who last month banned citizens from travelling to Kuwait to work, said 120 workers had died in the country last year and that the body of one Philippine woman had been found stuffed into a freezer in recent days.

Some 252,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many as maids, with reports of widespread abuse and exploitation. But it is unclear how many would want to return to the Philippines.

"When will this inhuman treatment of these Filipino workers end?" Duterte told reporters in his home city of Davao, showing the picture of a woman he said had been "roasted like a pig".

"Is there something wrong with your culture? Is there something wrong with your values?" he said, addressing the Kuwaitis.

He added that the government would ask airlines to send planes to help any Filipino workers in Kuwait wanting to return home to leave within 72 hours. He gave no further details.

Duterte has in recent weeks been highly critical of alleged abuse suffered by some of the two million Filipino workers in the Middle East, even threatening a ban on the whole region.

The Filipinos in Kuwait are among 10 million nationals working abroad, whose remittances back home are a major pillar of the poverty-stricken nation's economy.

"Of course we need the help of Kuwait," Duterte conceeded.

Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello said that for Duterte's ban to be lifted, Kuwait must sign a "memorandum of understanding" boosting protection for Filipino workers that had been pending for three years.

Kuwait has faced criticism in the past over its "kafala" system for foreign workers which has been likened to a form of bonded labour or even slavery.

The system requires the employer's consent before a worker can move to a new job prior to the end of their contract, which critics said resulted in a wide range of abuses.

Duterte's latest threat comes as he faces renewed pressure over human rights in the Philippines.

The International Criminal Court declared earlier this week that it will begin a "preliminary examination" into the charges that Duterte has committed a crime against humanity for allowing the killing of thousands of Filipino drug suspects.

 

Source: MailOnline

Philippine Minister of Labor Belo ,I say "Let your money be with you,... soak them and drink what they want"

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Philippine Minister of Labor Belo I say "Let your money be with you, Belo ... soak them and drink what they want"

The government should send a stronger message to the Philippines and stop aid

The Philippines has officially threatened to issue a comprehensive ban on sending its workers to Kuwait, including those who have obtained employment contracts but have not yet arrived in Kuwait, according to the Philippine Ministry of Labor. MP Safa al-Hashem entered the problem line, calling on the Kuwaiti government to " A stronger message "to the Philippines and the cessation of aid to them, and the influx of immigrants abuse of domestic workers, promising them a proposal to prevent the introduction of servants. 

The Philippine Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its official website that it conveyed to the Kuwaiti ambassador in Manila, Al-Zawikh assistant, "its strong protest against the ill-treatment and violations of the work of the Filipinos in Kuwait and the failure of the Kuwaiti authorities to protect them."
In a related context, Philippine Labor Minister Sylvester Bello read out the ban during a press conference, saying: "With the emergence of a series of reports involving violations and deaths of Filipino workers abroad, a total ban was imposed on the deployment of all workers in Kuwait," said spokesman for the Ministry of Labor Abigail "This decision will be activated immediately." 

A number of citizens told al-Rai that "the authorities in Manila have prevented their domestic workers from traveling through the airport, despite the desire of these workers to return to Kuwait," noting that "these workers contacted them and expressed the desire to return after the expiration of Their vacations, but they are surprised by the prevention of the Philippine authorities 

For her part, the Hashemite deputy called on the government represented by the Foreign Minister to send a stronger message to the Philippines and stop aid in response to the decisions to stop sending employment to Kuwait and the statements of Philippine Minister of Labor and Employment Silvestre Belo.

Philippine Minister of Labor  Belo ,I say "Let your money be with you,... soak them and drink what they want"." MP Safa al-Hashem called for the opening of employment from other countries, considering that the threat of Kuwait to the sovereign state is unacceptable. 

MP Safa al-Hashem blamed the expatriate workers for the problem of domestic labor, saying that "the problems come only from the mistreatment of expatriates to the servants." "We in the expatriate and his wife who killed the worker, put them in the freezer and fled abroad, the biggest example." 
Al-Hashim has vowed to come forward with a proposal to prevent them from recruiting domestic workers.

MP Safa: Stop Sending Aid To Philippines

MP Safa Al-Hashem called foreign Affairs Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid to stop sending aid to the Philippines as a response to the decision to stop sending Filipino workers to Kuwait and to recruit labors from other countries, Al-Hashem also announced that she will file another proposal to ban on recruiting maids for expatriates as a response on a latest incident when police found a body of a Filipina maid inside a freezer at apartment when its tenants, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife left Kuwait.

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Family Seeks Help to Find Missing OFW in Kuwait since 2015, Fears for her Safety after Case of OFW Found Dead Inside a Freezer

After every citizen of the country had been alarmed and the social media had been flooded by varied reactions from the people who were enraged with the death of Joanna Daniela Demafelis in Kuwait, another family of an OFW is seeking for help from the government.

According to Alyn MatusalemPomantoc from the Facebook group named OFW We are in the Middle East, a domestic helper named Rosalie IngoteDolliente who started to work in Kuwait in 2013 had not communicated with her family since 2015.

 

Rosalie’s family claimed that the last time they got in touched with her was during the last day of Ramadan 2015.  After that, she never contacted them. With what happened to Joanna, they are now worried about Rosalie’s safety.

The family is now appealing to the government so they may find their loved-one with fears that what happened to Joanna may become the same fate to Rosalie.

Meanwhile, in previous reports, President Rodrigo Dutertealready orderedLabor secretary Silvestre Bello III to bring home the distressed OFWs from Kuwait within 72 hours.

The president also assured that local airlines such as Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific will provide free transportation to bring home the affected OFWs.

The statement was made after President Duterte became very angry when the news about the OFW who was found dead in a freezer in Kuwait shocked the entire nation.

KUWAIT : Visa 18 Not Covered by Deployment Ban

For OFWs who might be feeling confused about deployment ban in Kuwait, a post on social media was made by the previous Consul General to Kuwait to serve as a guide and clarification of the said issue.

In the official Facebook account of Mr. Raul Dado, he gave two points to address the concerns of the OFWs who are affected by the deployment ban.

Mr. Dado wrote:

OFW KUWAIT DEPLOYMENT BAN

TO THE NUMEROUS QUERIES ON WHO IS AFFECTED BY THE DEPLOYMENT BAN :

  1. The President has ordered the Department of Labor that the ban will only affect Household Workers coming for the first time to Kuwait, not visa 18 or working visa holders;
  2. Household workers already in Kuwait and who do not suffer problems or abuses can also stay in Kuwait.

Apparently, the post means that Kuwait can still hire skilled workers and those domestic helpers who are in a vacation and desire to go back can still work with their previous employers in Kuwait because they are not be covered by the deployment ban.

 

For everyone’s guidance.

Meanwhile, Following President Duterte’s decision to totally ban deployment of Filipinos in Kuwait, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is set to issue a new order on Today  Monday 12 of February 2018.

DOLE ORDERS TOTAL DEPLOYMENT BAN OF OFWS TO KUWAIT

Manila: The Philippine government on Monday signed the administrative order to completely ban the deployment of all workers to Kuwait, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced Monday, In pursuit of national interest, a total ban on deployment of all OFWs to Kuwait pursuant to the directive of the President is hereby enforced, Order takes effect immediately,” he said in a media briefing.

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DOLE to implement total deployment ban for all OFW’s going to Kuwait

The Department of Labor and Employment is mulling if they will still allow OFW vacationing in the Philippines to return to Kuwait.

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DOLE orders total OFW deployment ban to Kuwait

Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed the Administrative Order to ban Deployment of OFW’s to Kuwait. 

DOLE clarified however, they will still have to study whether returning OFWs or "Balik Manggagawas" will be covered by order.

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PANGILINAN: JUSTICE FOR EACH ABUSE VICTIM RATHER THAN TOTAL BAN

Manila: Senator Francis Pangilinan said that it is better to serve justice to victims of abuse in Kuwait rather than imposing a total deployment ban, ” I think we should talk to with the Kuwaiti government, Pangilinan radio interview, Duterte on Friday night asked Filipinos in Kuwait to return home in 72 hours.

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DOLE to impose total deployment ban, vacationing workers, aside from the new hires, will no longer be allowed to return to Kuwait

Manila: The Philippine Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will issue a new order on Monday imposing a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

Bellos said he was instructed by President Rodrigo Duterte to issue the order on the total deployment ban, separate from a previous order suspending the processing of new employment certificates.
"This time, what the president wanted is a total deployment ban," Bello said.

Vacationing Filipino workers, aside from the new hires, will no longer be allowed to return to Kuwait.
It was not clear yet if Filipinos currently working in Kuwait will be covered by the ban, Bello said other details of the deployment ban will be contained in the order the Department of Labor and Employment will release on Monday