The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) opened the New Year by announcing that it will soon stop the deployment of newly hired household service workers (HSWs) bound for Kuwait, as Philippine officials push for the full prosecution of the employers behind the fatal beating and leading to the death of a Filipino maid.
As per Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III the partial deployment ban will not cover HSWs with existing contracts, as well as skilled and vacationing workers.
PH Govt Imposes Partial Deployment Ban on New HSWs in Kuwait
The Philippine government’s decision to impose a ban, which was recommended by the Philippine Labor Attache for Kuwait Nasser Mustafa, aims to compel the Kuwaiti government to “give immediate justice” to Jeanelyn Villavende, who was allegedly killed by her employer just last month.
Bello noted, “This should serve as a clear message to Kuwaiti authorities. The partial ban may ripen into total deployment ban if justice for Jeanelyn Villavende is not met.”
He added that they are ready to repatriate the estimated 260,000 OFWs based in Kuwait, the majority of whom are HSWs, if the total deployment ban becomes effective for the Gulf State.
The labor chief explained that the ban will take effect once it is approved by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board, which he, too, chairs. He said they are targeting to complete this by next week.
Bello pointed out that the Philippine government will only lift the ban if justice is given to Jeanelyn.
It can be recalled that the POEA issued its last deployment ban to Kuwait in 2018 upon the orders of President Duterte in response to the death of HSW Joanna Demafelis, who was allegedly also murdered by her employer. It was only lifted after the Philippine-Kuwait memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the protection of Filipino HSWs was signed in the same year.
The recent incident, however, raised a huge question mark as to the effectivity of the MOA, which was supposed to prevent further abuses of HSWs in Kuwait.
The important features of the MOA include making it mandatory for employers to allow their OFWs to (1) keep their passports and cell phones, (2) setting their meal and rest time, and (3) banning their relocation in Kuwait without authorization from the Philippine posts.
In spite of the formal arrangements set by the two nations, more than a year since it was signed, the MOA, labor officials said, has yet to be fully implemented since the employers of Filipino HSWs in Kuwait are still not made to sign the employment contract containing its provisions.
Meanwhile, Bello revealed that they are now also investigating the possible liability of the local recruitment agency who deployed Villavende to Kuwait after it allegedly failed to act on her complaints against her employers.
As a sanction, the recruiter faces suspension or cancellation of its license to recruit if it is proven to have been negligent in handling Villavende’s case.
Here is a video report shared by ABS CBN News/YouTube: