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Kuwait extends amnesty to OFWs

Largest batch of repatriated Filipino workers arrive Wednesday

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By Roy C. Mabasa

HOME-BOUND – The first batch of the largest group of repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) – 580 of them – arrive from Kuwait at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 yesterday. The Department of Foreign Affairs considers this as one of the largest repatriations it has carried out in a single day since it began more than a week ago. (Jansen Romero)

HOME-BOUND – The first batch of the largest group of repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) – 580 of them – arrive from Kuwait at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 yesterday. The Department of Foreign Affairs considers this as one of the largest repatriations it has carried out in a single day since it began more than a week ago. (Jansen Romero)

The Kuwaiti government has extended its amnesty program for overstaying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) by two months to give them more time to prepare to return home.

The order for the extension of the amnesty was signed Tuesday by Kuwait Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid Al-Jarrah Al-Sabah, the Department of Foreign Affiars (DFA) said.

The amnesty program was supposed to end today, February 22, if not for the two-month extension or until April 22.

The decision came less than a week after the DFA formally conveyed the extension request to Kuwaiti Ambassador to Manila Mousaed Al-Thwaikh.

The request for an extension was made to allow the Philippine government to accommodate more of the 10,800 Filipinos believed to have overstayed their visas or ran away from their employers as only close to 3,000 of those qualified have applied so far.

Largest batch

On Wednesday morning, 580 OFWs who availed themselves of the amnesty program arrived safely in Manila from Kuwait.

The DFA considers this batch as one of the largest repatriations it has carried out in a single day. The 580 Filipino workers flown out of Kuwait is also the biggest number to be flown home since the DFA began its repatriation efforts nine days ago.

According to the DFA, the amnesty grantees arrived on board Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.

The latest batch brought to 1,796 the total number of Filipino workers who have asked to be repatriated after availing themselves of an almost month-long amnesty program declared by the Kuwaiti government.

The Philippine Embassy in Kuwait said it has so far processed 3,801 travel documents for workers since the amnesty period began. It expects 2,000 more OFWs to be repatriated in the next few days after the Kuwaiti government decided to extend its amnesty program by two months.

Cancelled licenses

Due to various violations, the Philippine Overseas and Employment Administration (POEA) has cancelled the license of a number of Philippine recruitment agencies (PRAs).

“Pursuant to the directive of the Secretary of Labor to expedite cases of recruitment agencies guilty for deploying OFWs to Kuwait, the POEA has finally resolved pending cases and we have here an initial list of PRAs found guilty of recruitment violations with their corresponding penalties,” POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said in a press briefing in Manila, Wednesday.

The agencies, he said, either violated provisions of employment contract, substitution of contract, non-payment of wages, among others.

Agencies in the list and their corresponding penalty are:

Al Bayan International Manpower Services Co. –cancellation of license and 8months suspension of license;

Bumiputra Gulf Company, Inc. – cancellation of license;

Gold Fortune Human Resources Corp. –cancellation of license and 4months suspension of license.

LFC International Human Resources – cancellation of license and reprimand;

Aisis International Manpower, Inc. – cancellation of license;

GreatWorld International Management, Inc. – cancellation of license;

GlobalGate International Manpower Services, Inc. – cancellation of license and  4 months suspension of license;

MMML Placement, Inc. – cancellation of license;

NRS Placement, Inc. – 4 months suspension of license and reprimand;

SML Human Resources, Inc. – cancellation of license;

Best Migrant Workers International Manpower Services, Inc. – cancellation of licenseand  8 months suspension of license.

“These are the initial list of pending cases involving PRAs who are deploying workers bound to Kuwait. In the days to come we will be resolving other pending cases,” said Olalia.

“Yung mga napatawan ng cancellation of license sanction, meronsila karapatang mag-file ng appeal 15 days upon receipt of the resolution. In the meantime pending appeal, hindi po sila makapag process ng papers nila,” he added.

Olalia also clarified the cases of the agencies were already pending even before the total deployment of OFWs to Kuwait took effect.

Aside from the PRAs, Olalia also named five of their personnel who will be charged with appropriate cases.

The five are:

Florence Medina, LEO III and evaluator assigned at BMPD Main and BM SM Manila;

Jerome Sousa, administrative aide BM cum evaluator (service contractual) assigned at BM SM Manila;

Gretchen C. Casilang, LEO II and evaluator assigned at BM SM Pampanga;

Renegold Macarulay, supervising labor and employment officer assigned at POEA Zamboanga; Rosalina Rosales, LEO III/evaluator assigned at BM Trinoma. (With a report from Leslie Ann G. Aquino)

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