KUWAIT has informally agreed to ban its nationals from confiscating the passports of Filipinos working in said Middle East (ME) country, particularly household service workers (HSWs).
President Duterte banned the deployment of new overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait after a female HSW working there was found dead in a freezer in an abandoned apartment.
Angered by the brutal death of Joanna Demafelis, one of over 250,000 Filipinos working in the oil-rich ME country, various quarters called for additional protection for HSWs.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the ban may be lifted if Kuwait signs a pact banning its nationals from confiscating the passports and changing the place of work of OFWs.
“Ngayon, pupunta ang kanilang representante dito para i-finalize na po ang draft ng memorandum of agreement,” according to Bello, a close ally of tough-talking President Duterte.
It is public knowledge that the remittances of an estimated two million Filipinos now working in the Middle East continue to help prop up the still struggling Philippine economy.
Aware of the rising number of OFWs held in foreign jails, some quarters have called on the government to review the country’s multi-billion-dollar overseas employment program.
Official records show that problematic Filipino migrant workers are mostly victims of sweet-talking illegal job recruiters, foreign and local, and abusive and cruel foreign employers.
Of course, we share the view of many that government authorities should have asked Kuwait long ago to ban its nationals from confiscating the passports of OFWs, especially HSWs.
“Kahit minamaltrato na eh ’di basta makakalayas ang isang OFW sa bahay ng abusadong amo dahil hawak ng huli ang passport niya,” lamented a mother of a former domestic helper in Kuwait.
And recruitment agencies ought to ensure that foreign employers comply with the PH-Kuwaiti memorandum of agreement, when it takes effect.