THE Philippines and Kuwait have signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that seeks to guarantee protection for Filipino household service workers (FHSWs) in the tiny but oil-rich Gulf state.
President Duterte okayed the signing of the accord after learning that all the conditions he set were included in the “Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Helpers between the Philippines and Kuwait.”
Under the MOA, workers’ passports are to be deposited at the Philippine Embassy; workers get at least one day off a week; workers shall have at least seven hours sleep a day; and workers shall be provided with communication lines, decent meals and sleeping quarters.
At the start of the Philippine-Kuwaiti negotiations, the tough-talking President Duterte made it clear that the well-being of overseas Filipino workers should always be paramount.
In the view of many, the government should have done it long ago considering the number of problematic FHSWs, including victims of cruel, abusive and heartless employers, in Kuwait.
But as some quarters said, it’s better late than never. What is important is for concerned government offices and agencies to ensure that the landmark agreement will be enforced.
“Dapat siguruhin ng ating gobyerno na tatalima ang mga Kuwaiti employer sa isinasaad ng kasunduan na naglalayong mapabuti ang kalagayan ng mga OFW sa Kuwait,” said an ex-FHSW.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara lauded the Duterte government for its handling of the diplomatic row with Kuwait, which is also mandated to establish a mechanism for 24-hour assistance to OFWs.
“We are hopeful that the signing of the MOA would really lead to better working conditions and more humane treatment of Filipinos in Kuwait to put an end to the cases of abuse,” said Senator Angara.
The government ought to sign a similar memorandum of agreement with other OFW-importing countries.