Kuwait agrees with OFW labor protection pact

Further protection for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is slated for implementation as the Kuwaiti government has agreed with the labor protection pact’s conditions relayed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte shared the good news during his meeting with around 2,000 members of the Filipino community in Hong Kong, saying that he will not hesitate to go to Kuwait anytime to have the agreement signed.

The said labor protection pact is intended to improve the working and living conditions of OFWs in the gulf state. Among the conditions that Duterte has included in the pact are the prohibition of OFWs’ passports confiscation, prevention of physical abuse, and the grant for OFWs to sleep for seven hours.

In addition, Duterte said that he wants OFWs to be given freedom on keeping and using their cellphones whenever they want, and use it directly to call him in case of complaints.

“My number is probably Manila, 638888. That’s the hotline. Just 8888,” he said.

One of the conditions of allowing OFWs to cook their own food was also agreed by the Kuwaiti government, given that they’ll refrain on cooking pork and other food considered forbidden in Islam.

Duterte said the he will personally be in Kuwait to witness the signing as a way to give honor to the Kuwaiti government.

“I’m going to Kuwait maybe for the signing. And I have made so many demands before we sign the contract. And in fairness to the Kuwait government, pumayag sila,” the President said.

Duterte also mentioned that he had instructed Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to perform necessary preparations in case the Kuwait government won’t follow his conditions.

“At sinabi ko sa Cabinet ng meeting, mahirap lang tayo. There’s not enough for everybody. But if everything goes wrong here, we have to accept our countrymen and spend all available money para makatulong sa kanila,” he emphasized.

“’Bahala na,’ sabi ko. Magtiis tayo. Maybe there’s always God who thinks about equality in this planet. Tutulungan rin tayi ng Diyos,” the President added.

Approving the said conditions for the welfare of OFWs in Kuwait was one of Duterte’s factors before lifting the total deployment ban on new OFWs in the said state.

The deployment ban on new OFWs in Kuwait was triggered by the tragic death of Joanna Demafelis, who was reportedly beaten to death by her Syrian and Lebanese employers and was later found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment unit after a year of being on the missing list.

The incident also led Duterte to order the DOLE to immediately repatriate all OFWs in Kuwait who wish to go home in the Philippines.

According to the President, the government is currently auditing countries where OFWs are reportedly receiving “brutal treatment and human degradation” from their employers.