LABOR Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III is optimistic that Kuwait will be amenable to the provisions of a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Philippines that has been scheduled for signing during an upcoming trip of a Philippine delegation to the Gulf Arab state.
In a radio interview, Bello said the Kuwaiti officials are still eager to continue talks on the proposed accord.
So far, he said, the Kuwaiti government has not voiced out any opposition on the provisions of the agreement, including requiring overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait to deposit their passports to the Philippine Embassy.
“They are open to it to prevent employers from confiscating the passports [of our OFWs],” Bello said in the radio interview on Wednesday.
He added he is now just awaiting for the necessary clearance to head to Kuwait
During the weekend, Bello said he is expected to arrive in Kuwait on May 7 for the negotiations of the MOU.
“I will be meeting with my counterpart, the Minister of Labor, as well as the ministers of foreign affairs, interior and their ambassador,” Bello said.
The signing of the MOU and giving justice for the gruesome death of Filipino household service worker (HSW) Joanna Demafelis are the two conditions given by President Duterte to lift the existing deployment ban to Kuwait.
Duterte ordered the issuance of the ban in Kuwait after Demafelis’s remains were found in February stuffed in a freezer inside the home of her employer.
Bello, likewise, said he had also arrange for the release of a detained Philippine embassy personnel in Kuwait.
“We will go to them so they could be released,” Bello said.
Some Philippine embassy personnel were arrested by Kuwaiti authorities last month for their controversial rescue of distressed Filipino HSWs.
The incident irked Kuwaiti authorities and resulted to the expulsion of Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Villa.
On Tuesday Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah reaffirmed their country’s friendship with the Philippines. He said they hope both countries will be able to overcome their existing disagreement.
The Department of Foreign Affair (DFA) welcomed the gesture as sign of the country’s improving diplomatic relations with Kuwait.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), meanwhile, has imposed a new set of deployment restrictions to Qatar, amid a reported hike of an OFW who suffered employment contract violations.
In its Advisory 21, series of 2018, POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia suspended the verification and processing of recruitment documents of OFWs, who will be working in Qatari firms engaged in manpower/labor supply; cleaning and hospitality; and outsourcing and subcontracting.
However, he noted that OFWs whose documents were already verified by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) prior to the effectivity of the new issuance will be exempted from the suspension.
Olalia issued Advisory 21 on March 27, 2017, after the Polo and Philippine Embassy reported the “mounting complaints” of employment contract violations in the said sectors.
“The reported employment violations include nonpayment and underpayment of monthly salaries and benefits, illegal termination, substitution of contracts and maltreatment, among others,” Olalia said.
The POEA official said the advisory will continue to take effect until the POLO and the Philippine Embassy conclude their review on the labor market situation Qatar and submit the recommendation to POEA for the resumption of the deployment.
To recall, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) suspended the deployment of OFWs in Qatar on June 6, 2017, after several Arab countries imposed sanctions against it for its alleged links with terrorists. Qatar denied the accusation.
The ban was lifted June 15, 2017 upon the recommendations of POLO in Qatar and DFA.