By Leslie Ann Aquino
Is Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello really interested in becoming the next Ombudsman?
In a television interview Tuesday, the labor chief admitted telling President Duterte to make him Ombudsman so he could help in his crusade against corruption.
“I keep telling the president sabi niya, ang kanyang krusada ay laban sa corruption. Tapos ang sabi ko tulungan kita. Ang sabi niya, ‘Paano naman?’ Gawin mo akong Ombudsman,” Bello told ABS CBN’s Bandila.
When asked if he seriously wants the post, his answer was: It’s a challenge. A new field.
Asked if this has been his dream, Bello replied with: “Actually, it just occurred to me recently nung President keeps harping on corruption. Yun ang focal point ng Ombudsman.”
On Tuesday, reports came out that the labor chief was among those who filed an application for the Ombudsman post.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales is set to vacate her post in July.
Meanwhile, Bello said he is awaiting the directive from President Duterte before the labor department could officially lift the deployment ban for skilled workers to Kuwait.
He said he has recommended to the President the partial lifting after the agreement on the provision of better protection for Filipino migrant workers in the Gulf state was signed between the two nations last week.
“I told the President that we can lift the ban only with respect to our skilled workers and professionals. As to the household service workers, I said in my report that we will have to wait and see the effect of the agreement that we signed on the protection of our household service workers,” Bello said in a statement.
The labor secretary said the deployment ban of HSW to Kuwait will be lifted in due time until the agreement is proven to be an effective deterrent to the abuses and maltreatment of overseas Filipino workers in the Gulf State.
Among the key features of the signed agreement are the provision of food, housing, clothing and registration in the health insurance system for domestic workers, as well as the use of cellular phones and other means to communicate with their families back home.
As stated in the MOU, the employer is also not allowed to keep the domestic workers’ personal identity documents such as passport as it is a property of the Philippine government and should not be in the possession of the employer.
Also, the MOU provides that the employer should open a bank account under the domestic worker’s name to allow the reasonable opportunity to remit his or her monthly salary to relatives in the Philippines, as provided in the employment contract.
Bello said the implementation of the provisions of the agreement between Kuwait and Philippines on the protection of Filipino migrant workers will be monitored by a joint committee composed of Labor Attaché and OWWA Deputy Executive Arnel Ignacio.
The said joint committee is also tasked to conduct periodic visitation to further monitor and assess the conditions of the OFWs in Kuwait.
There are 262,000 documented OFWs in Kuwait of which 170,000 are HSWs.