By Ben Rosario
President Duterte’s tough stance in protecting Filipinos in Kuwait has been vindicated by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the Kuwaiti and the Philippine government.
“The signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between Kuwait and the Philippines gave vindication to the tough actions of President Duterte to insist on the security of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo said.
Castelo, vice chairman of the House committee for OFWs, said the agreement which he had long supported for signing will be the best shield of some 252,000 OFWs in the Gulf State and at the same time signals the return to normal of the relations of both countries.
The agreement was signed after a tumultuous chain of events triggered by the discovery of the grissly killing of domestic help Joanna Demafelis from the hands of her Kuwaiti employers.
Demafelis was found stuffed in a freezer long after she was killed.
Castelo said the strong demand of President Duterte for the protection of OFWs in Kuwait greatly helped speed up the signing of the MOA that makes Kuwait’s obligation to OFWs demandable.
Duterte ordered a permanent ban on the deployment of OFWs in the Gulf State while telling the rest of Filipinos working there to head home calling on their sense of patriotism.
The tough talk which his spokesman later explained as a mere suspension of the deployment of OFWs, nonetheless, showed Mr. Duterte’s commitment to provide assistance to Filipinos facing abuse abroad.
Castelo said the particular provision of the MOA that provides for a hotline between Kuwait and the Philippines regarding the OFWs welfare assures an unprecedented level of protection of OFWs.
Castelo encouraged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to continue the push for the signing of similar agreements in countries where there is a heavy concentration of OFWs.