By Ben Rosario
The ACT-OFW partylist on Friday rejected government’s decision to impose a partial ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, saying the current situation calls for a total ban.
Chaired by former Rep. John Bertiz, the party-list organization condemned the murder of household service worker Jeanalyn Villavende, allegedly in the hands of her Kuwaiti employers.
“Villavende’s death should immediately prompt our government to impose a total – not partial – deployment ban on household service workers to Kuwait until the provisions of and conditions set under the existing labor agreement with Kuwait are fully implemented,” the ACT-OFW statement said.
Bertiz said all concerned agencies of the government should now “put into test” the labor agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait that was reached following the temporary imposition of a total OFW ban to the Middle East nation.
Triggered by the slaying of OFW Joanna Demafeles in 2016, the deployment prohibition was later lifted when the two countries reached an agreement.
“It is easy to jump into a paroxysm of inquiries following death of OFWs but we cannot be amiss with our duties in according enough security and safety guarantees they deserve,” said Bertiz.
The former lawmaker also called on Philippine labor attaches and their foreign counterparts to immediately activate the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) which is part of the agreement between Philippines and countries where OFWs are deployed.
The JMC is a mechanism that seeks the stric monitoring of OFWs in distress and the investigation and prosecution of suspects in the maltreatment, abuse or contraction violations committed against OFWs.
The House Committees on Labor and Employment and on OFW Affairs are set to launch congressional investigation into the death of Villavende.
1PACMAN Party-list Rep. Eric Pineda, labor committee chairman, said a congressional inquiry has become imperative to determine a possible violation of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait in connection with the sending of Filipino workers to the oil-rich nation.
“As chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment and likewise the senior vice chairman of the Overseas Workers Affairs Committee, I am pushing for our government to impose a deployment ban to Kuwait until we are satisfied with their government’s actions with respect to the death of overseas Filipino worker, Jeanalyn Villavende until justice is served,” said Pineda.