By Fred M. Lobo
The repatriation of distressed Filipino workers in Kuwait has begun on President Duterte’s call for them to come home and a standing order temporarily banning further deployment there.
No further abuses against overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in that Arab state, he said.
Repatriations of distressed OFWs have been carried out by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other concerned agencies in the wake of complaints of maltreatment, non-payment of salaries, rape, verbal and physical abuse and even murder.
Let’s hope this extreme situation does not happen in other Middle East countries, the President added.
Initial batches of repatriated OFWs arrived on board Philippine Airlines (PAL) and landed at the NAIA, with Cebu Pacific promising to extend the same assistance.
Happy to be home after bad luck befell them in Kuwait, they said.
The government decision to help distressed OFWs return home from Kuwait came after the shocking discovery of the body of Filipina Joanna Daniela Dimapilis inside a freezer at a vacant apartment last week.
This is too much to bear, Malacañang said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said they have processed repatriation from Kuwait of about 800 distressed OFWs although the total could reach 2,000.
Return to sender. Tsk-tsk!
Alarmed that there are about 250,000 Filipinos who work in Kuwait, 75 percent of whom are domestic helpers, senators called on the Duterte government to prepare enough job placement programs for them in the country.
The unemployment situation for OFWs could worsen, they said.
Senator Cynthia Villar said the DOLE and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) should tap the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program to provide job opportunities for returning OFWs.
Matching of skills ASAP could help facilitate job placement.
“You know, our domestic helpers comprise 80 percent of the problem of our labor department. That’s why I also believe we should stop them from going there,” Villar said.
“They really have a different culture there. Unlike here, that’s why it’s difficult to deploy domestic helpers in that country,” she added.
Villar expressed hopes that affected OFWs can be trained for skills in the construction industry.
“Women can also be welders. I know of one female who graduated in TESDA as a valedictorian in welding,” she said.
The senator added that there is also a shortage of manpower in the tourism industry, and returning OFWs can take advantage of it.
“So I really believe, they just need to be trained and retrained so they would be equipped with sufficient skills,” she stressed.