Philippines Orders Total OFW Deployment Ban

The Philippines has ordered a total ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, following instructions from President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Pursuant to that directive of the president, we will be issuing an administrative order, to totally ban deployment of our OFWs to Kuwait…Yung ban will cover all,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told reporters.

The Labor Department had earlier suspended the processing of new employment certificates to Filipino workers bound for Kuwait after recent death of seven migrant workers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer inside an apartment in that country.

At least 400 repatriated Filipinos from Kuwait have arrived in the Philippines on Monday, a Palace spokesman said.

Bello added that some 2,500 more Filipinos in the Gulf state are ready to be repatriated.
He said the government has created a task force to handle the repatriation of the Filipino workers pursuant to Duterte’s order to have them back within 72 hours.

Another task force will assess the situation in the Middle East and the condition of the thousands of Filipinos there to determine “how we can be of assistance to them.”

Repatriated workers from Kuwait, Bello said, may be deployed to other countries such as China or Russia.

The Labor Department chief said the Philippine government may lift the deployment ban if Kuwait signs a memorandum of agreement on the protection of OFWs. The agreement will bar employers from confiscating passports of their workers, transferring them to another workplace, among others.

On the other hand, the deployment ban may extend to other Arab nations if a pending review finds that the condition of OFWs there is poor, Bello said.

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