THE Bureau of Immigration (BI) yesterday said it is now allowing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait who are currently vacationing in the country to leave and return to their jobs.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente made the announcement upon learning that the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has issued a new directive exempting “Balik Manggagawa” passengers from the ban of deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.
Morente instructed BI port operations division chief Marc Red Mariñas to make sure that the OFWs returning to Kuwait are properly documented and subjected to the usual immigration departure formalities.
He said Kuwaiti-bound Filipinos, with short-term non-working visas, are also not covered by the ban. They, too, will be allowed to depart.
Earlier, BI personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were compelled to defer the departure of more than a hundred OFWs to Kuwait as they awaited for the DoLE’s decision on their fate.
“With this development, there is no more obstacle and impediment for these ‘Balik Manggagawa’ OFWs to return to their jobs in Kuwait,” Morente said.
He added: “As for those who have just been recruited to work in Kuwait, we are sorry but we cannot let you leave.”
Mariñas, however, said that BI officers in all ports are under strict orders to adopt stricter screening procedures and rigid inspection of all departing passengers.
“It is imperative that our immigration officers exercise extra vigilance in order to thwart attempts by the illegal recruiters and human trafficking syndicates to circumvent the ban by employing all sorts of dirty schemes,” Mariñas said.
MORE distressed OFWs returned home from Kuwait as part of the mass repatriation ordered by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Yesterday, another batch composed of 332 OFWs from Kuwait arrived at the NAIA Terminal 1 on board two separate flights of the Philippine Airlines and Gulf Air.
Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella met the returning OFWs and promised them assistance from the Duterte administration.
“President Rodrigo Duterte is doing everything to help OFWs to find another jobs in China and even in Russia,” Abella said.
Among the 332 OFWs who arrived was 14-year-old Filipino-Egyptian Gumana Hassanin, who was accompanied by her 25-year-old aunt, Bailamie Nonukan.
The boy was brought to the Philippines upon instruction by Bailamie’s elder sister, who is an OFW married to an Egyptian.
Gumana will be raised permanently in Zamboanga until her mother arrives in a few months.
Rochelle Nania, a 25-year-old domestic helper, was also among those who arrived from Kuwait yesterday.
“I escaped my employer because of non- payment of contract salaries, no day-off, luck of food and most of all, I am not allowed to go out even to buy something,” Nania said.
More OFWs are set to come home to avail of the repatriation program of the government. Most of them experienced various abuses such as maltreatment, over-worked and other human rights violation