Kuwait -Philippines create Overseas Filipino Workers to monitor abuse at foreign workers


(Reuters)DUBAI: The creation of a joint committee that would monitor the welfare Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait, particularly the household service workers, should ensure a faster response to cases of abuse, a labor and migration expert said Wednesday.

“The joint committee would help a lot in making sure that the welfare of [Filipino] workers are taken care of since they will regularly monitor the situation,” Emmanuel S. Geslani told Arab News in a telephone interview.

“The committee would also ensure that there would be an immediate response to abuse cases that would be lodged with the Philippine embassy [in Kuwait],” Geslani added.

The labor attaché in Kuwait will head the Philippine representation, while Kuwaiti immigration and foreign affairs officials will form the counterpart group for the joint committee, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told a legislative hearing on Wednesday.

The joint committee will be convened after Ramadan to finalize procedures for the enforcement of the Memorandum of Understanding, signed on May 11, which strengthened the diplomatic and labor relations between the Philippines and Kuwait after an earlier row over the supposed ‘rescue’ of domestic workers in the Gulf country.

Bello also announced that the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait would resume next week after consulting President Rodrigo Duterte, who imposed a ban in February following numerous cases of abuse and murder of Filipino workers including that of housemaid Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found stuffed in a freezer more than a year after she reported missing.

“They [non-skilled workers] can start traveling to Kuwait next week while skilled workers who are not covered by the MoU can fly out as early as tomorrow,” Bello said, as the guidelines on household service workers’ recruitment and deployment would be released next week.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them working in homes, latest deployment figures show.

“The guidelines should ensure that employers [of house helpers in Kuwait] would comply with the MoU and have an immediate response because definitely, some will not follow,” Geslani said since Kuwaiti police and immigration authorities now have an established partnership with Philippine government representatives.

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