By Genalyn Kabiling
Filipino workers will be allowed anew to work in Kuwait after President Duterte has ordered the lifting of the total deployment ban of workers to the Gulf state.
The President’s decision came a few days after the two countries inked a landmark agreement providing additional protection for Filipinos working in Kuwait.
“Upon recommendation of Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte tonight instructed Secretary Silvestre Bello to totally lift the ban on deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said.
Apart from skilled and semi-skilled workers, Roque said domestic workers would be allowed again to seek employment in Kuwait.
Just last Tuesday, Malacañang announced the partial lifting of the deployment ban to Kuwait by allowing skilled and semi-skilled workers to go there. Roque cited the improving relations between the Philippines and Kuwait in the government’s decision to allow these workers to travel to Kuwait. Around 20,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers are expected to depart for Kuwait following the lifting of the ban.
At the time, Roque said the deployment ban on domestic workers would only be only after certain reforms in recruitment are put in place. He said domestic workers must undergo extensive training to avoid any “culture shock” when they start working in Kuwait.
The President ordered a total deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait last February following reports of abuses including the brutal killing of Filipina worker Joanna Demafelis. The incident prompted bilateral negotiations for a labor protection pact governing workers in Kuwait.
The relations between the two countries, however, were further strained after Kuwait protested the clandestine rescue of distressed Filipino workers by Philippine embassy personnel. The incident led to the expulsion of the Philippine ambassador from Kuwait.
The President later appointed Mamao as his special envoy to Kuwait in a bid to mend ties with Kuwait amid a diplomatic row. The two sides eventually agreed to proceed with the signing of the labor protection deal last week.
The memorandum of agreement includes the conditions set by President Duterte such as seven hours of sleep, access to food, cell phone and passport, a day off per week, and protection from abuse.