Since the Philippine government imposed the worker’s deployment ban in Kuwait, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has been investigating whether to lift the suspension or extend it.
The investigation is a multi-agency effort between DOLE, Ministry of Interior of Kuwait, and the Office of the President.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello stressed that they are doing their best and taking necessary steps to help Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFW) in Kuwait who are abused and maltreated in their jobs.
Repatriation plan is an option as well, so far, 500 OFWs has been repatriated.
Bello also appeals to OFWs with the pending application to work in Kuwait to give them more time to thoroughly investigate the situation, “we want to make sure that when we deploy them [OFW], they are in good hands. Kailangan nating matiyak ang kanilang kaligtasan doon [Kuwait].”
Currently, there are 2000-3000 OFWs a day affected by the deployment ban in Kuwait. While the Labor department understands the implication of this figures, they want to make sure that the issues of abuse and maltreatment will be properly addressed.
Bello stressed that “we cannot gamble their lives [OFWs]. Ayaw po naming malaman na mayroon na namang ginahasa o nilapastangan na kababayan natin.”
Furthermore, the labor secretary wants to ensure everyone that they are being true to their mandate in regards with the deployment of Filipino workers abroad, “we want to be sure that if we deploy them abroad, ay nasa mabuti silang kalagayan. That they are well protected and they are properly secured.”
DOLE is also looking whether the deployment ban will be implemented in other Middle East countries as well, but this is for further investigation and verification.
Meanwhile, DOLE also addressed the issue regarding the retrenchment or layoff of OFWs in Saudi Arabia.
Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad III explained that this situation is caused by the so-called ‘Saudization’ wherein Saudi Arabia will prioritize their local workers for employment. While this is not politically-driven, the shift in the country’s economy is the root cause of this.
This economy shift affects OFWs in Saudi Arabia, Lagunzad noted that “the response of the government is to assist them.”
Unfortunately, the ‘Saudization’ has many implications for the OFWs but they want to make sure that necessary steps are underway to help them, as well as to lessen the possible impacts to OFW.
These situations in the Middle East countries truly affect the OFWs and their livelihood but DOLE wants to assure everyone that the affected OFWs are not forgotten but prioritized.
That they can expect the department, and especially the Office of the President, to assist them all throughout the ordeals they might face abroad. (Ehlorra Mangahas)