Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier this week ordered a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers to Kuwait.

Bello said the ban is pursuant to the directive of President Duterte amid cases of deaths and abuses of Filipino workers in the Gulf state.

“The major concern of the President is safety and the welfare of our OFWs. The ban is our way to send a strong message to the government of Kuwait and other Arab countries that the protection and security of our OFWs is foremost in our policy,” Bello said.

The ban covers all Kuwait-bound OFWs including household services workers and skilled workers while the process of redeployment for the Balik-Manggagawa or the vacationing OFWs is still under thorough review.

DOLE earlier suspended the processing and issuance of overseas employment certificates (OECs) to all Kuwait-bound workers following the deaths of seven OFWs.

The deployment ban was enforced following reports of another death of OFW named Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer. She was reported to have been subjected to maltreatment and abuse based on initial investigation.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is already in contact with the family of Demafelis to provide assistance including burial and livelihood support.

The labor secretary meanwhile said that some 2,000 more workers in Kuwait have already applied for amnesty and ready to be repatriated. The President ordered them repatriated within 72 hours.

As of February 8, 2018, a total of 1,124 OFWs in Kuwait were issued with travel documents stamped with exit visas while 800 OFWs are now scheduled to go back home.

Also, a task force was created to further assess the situation of OFWs in Middle East to provide immediate response and assistance to their needs.

END/Abegail De Vega

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