MANILA - Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he will urge President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday to partially lift a ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait.
Duterte ordered the deployment ban and rolled out a repatriation program for OFWs who would like to come home after following a string of reported abuse and deaths of Filipino workers in the Gulf state, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer.
"Iyung sa mga skilled workers at professionals, ire-recommend ko po ngayong araw ang lifting ng ban kay Pangulong Duterte," Bello told radio DZMM.
(For skilled workers and professionals, I will recommend today the lifting of the ban to President Duterte.)
Bello said he may suggest lifting the ban for household workers after he studies the effects of a deal for the protection of OFWs, which Manila and Kuwait signed last week.
"'Pag natiyak natin ang kanilang kaligtasan, maaaring ire-recommend ko rin kay Pangulong Duterte ang lifting," he said.
(Once we assure their safety, we may also recommend the lifting of the ban for household workers.)
The landmark agreement for OFW protection provides for a standard template contract for workers.
It requires 12-hour rest time for workers and bans the confiscation of their mobile phones and passports by employers.
Also among the provisions of the deal are the creation of a 24/7 hotline where Filipino workers may report abuses and a special police unit to respond to such complaints.
The pact signals that ties between Manila and Kuwait have returned to normal following a diplomatic row on the treatment of workers, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Saturday.
Philippine officials last month “rescued” distressed workers allegedly without coordinating with Kuwaiti officials, prompting the latter to banish Manila's ambassador.
Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, according to the foreign ministry.