At least $250 million in remittances is seen to drop should the Philippines continue to ban the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, which will also result in the displacement of 270,000 workers, mostly household helpers, who may lose their jobs, an expert said Monday.
Recruitment spokesman and migrant expert Emmanuel Geslani said at least 30,000 workers would lose their jobs if the problem was not resolved within a year similar, or similar to what happened in 2018.
He made his statement even as a lawmaker from Rizal cited the many problems besetting Filipino workers abroad, as well as the continuing tension in the Middle East as he pushed for the passage of a bill that would create a department to take care of the needs of overseas workers.
“Recent incidents involving Filipino workers in the Middle East as well as the potential conflict that could arise from various security issues involving armed state actors emphasize the urgency of this bill,” Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, one of the bill's champions, said.
Nograles has visited Filipino workers in the Middle East to listen to their complaints and to determine their needs. He was in the region when Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone attack near Baghdad.
In February 2018, the government also banned the deployment of Filipinos to Kuwait due to the many abuses committed by Kuwaiti employers, and the murder of Filipino worker Joanna Demafelis whose body was found in a freezer.
Geslani said the deployment of household workers only started after July 2018, with only 23,525 able to leave for Kuwait unlike in 2017, when 45,856 landed jobs in the gulf state.
“Kuwait was the second top destination of [Filipinos] in 2017, but due to the 2018 incident the deployment has dropped to a third in 2018,” Geslani said.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has signed an administrative order on the total deployment ban to Kuwait to implement the President’s directive amid investigations on the death of Jeanelyn Villavende.
The newly imposed total deployment ban covers household service workers, semiskilled and skilled workers, as well as professionals including Filipino seafarers.
However, skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts, and those who will be cleared by the secretary of labor are exempt from the ban.
“With the imposition of this new ban, many [Filipinos] in Kuwait might not return and simply renew their contracts with their employers as they will not be allowed to return to Kuwait,” Geslani said.
Out of the 270,000 estimated Filipinos in Kuwait, there are about 220,000 household workers and the rest are skilled or professional workers who value their jobs and are equally important to their employers, who may prevail on them to stay. With Maricel V. Cruz