The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration issued a resolution totally banning the deployment of Filipino household workers, semi-skilled and skilled workers and professionals, except for skilled and professional workers who were just on vacation in the country.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, who is also head of the POEA Governing Board, signed POEA-GBT No. 04, series of 2020 on Jan. 16, 2020, banning the deployment of Filipino household workers to Kuwait after an autopsy of Jeanalyn Villavende’s body found that she was also sexually abused, a finding that was not indicated in the initial autopsy conducted by a Kuwaiti government.
“Under the deployment ban order, all newly hired skilled and professional workers are included and cannot leave the country effective immediately,” Bello said in a press briefing at the Swiss-Belhotel Blulane, in Sta. Cruz, Manila.
He said the processing of job applications to Kuwait is also suspended.
The Philippine government implemented a partial deployment ban to Kuwait after the death of Villavende but amended by the POEA Governing Board to a total deployment ban after an autopsy conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation showed that Villavende’s body was also sexually abused.
The Labor chief said that the total deployment ban is indefinite and would only be lifted should the Kuwaiti government implement key reforms that could effectively protect migrant workers in Kuwait.
“Kuwaiti government should also give proof that justice be given to Villavende’s death,” Bello said, adding that her employer works at Kuwait’s Ministry of Interior.
Kuwait is home to about 180,000 Filipino workers, 60 percent of which were domestic helpers.
The Philippine government would ask other countries, including China, to accommodate workers to be affected by the policy and vowed to provide for the needs of those who would come home from Kuwait.
After Bello signed the order, the Palace said the deployment ban of Filipino workers in Kuwait stays unless its government honors a pact signed to guarantee their protection.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued this statement after the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration approved a resolution imposing a total deployment ban of all newly-hired workers bound for Kuwait.
Panelo, also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, said the total deployment ban will be “indefinite” until such time that the Kuwaiti government implements its provisions.
“Until such time as the terms of the MOA (memorandum of agreement) are incorporated in each labor contract between the employer and the employee, the ban remains,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Citing Bello, Panelo said the Kuwaiti government has yet to honor the pact on the protection of Filipino workers in the Gulf State.
“Yun nga ang kundisyon e. Pag di niyo ginagawa ang pinag-usapan natin diyan, tuluy-tuloy yung ban natin (Those are the conditions. If you don’t implement what we have agreed upon, the ban stays),” Panelo said.
Asked if there was a need to amend the existing pact, Panelo said what is needed is stricter implementation.
“Yung pagsunod hindi naman yan sa pag-amend ng MOA kundi sa pag-implement ng gobyerno nila (It does not require an amendment to the pact but implementation on their part),” Panelo said.
“We’re asking them to implement it otherwise the ban remains,” he added.
In May 2018, the Philippine and Kuwait governments signed an agreement that aims to put an end to inhumane treatment committed against Filipino workers by their Kuwaiti employers.
The agreement contains a contract of employment template where provisions “particularly stated” by the President are enumerated.
These provisions include requiring workers’ passports to be deposited to the Philippine Embassy and not confiscated by employers; workers are given one day off every week; workers are given seven hours of sleep a day; workers provided with decent meals and sleeping quarters; and workers provided with cellphones.
Prior to the signing of the deal, Duterte imposed a total deployment ban on new workers to Kuwait after the murder of domestic worker Joanna Demafelis, along with a series of reported abuse and maltreatment of Filipino domestic workers.
Despite the killing of another Filipino worker in Kuwait, Panelo said the Philippine government is not considering the possible cutting of ties with Kuwait.
Duterte also said he has no intention to order the repatriation of Filipino workers from Kuwait.
He also expressed appreciation for Kuwait’s efforts to serve justice for Villavende who was killed by her employer’s wife.
Villavende’s employers have been arrested and are currently detained by Kuwaiti authorities. With PNA