Solon backs ban on OFW deployment to Kuwait

Rep. Aniceto "John" Bertiz. (From JB Facebook page)

OFW solon backs President Duterte’s call for a total ban on deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait; cites 3 suicides in less than two months

The lone OFW representative in Congress backed the call of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to ban the deployment of Filipino domestic workers to Kuwait in light of recent suicides of Filipinas maids and hundreds othes running away from Kuwaiti employers per month.

ACTS OFW party-list Representative Aniceto “John” Bertiz III said the President’s statement showed great sensitivity to the rights of women migrant workers particularly domestic workers, who suffer the most because of the vulnerable nature of their occupation.

“As far back as 2016, I filed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the deployment of our domestic workers to Kuwait. I am happy that no less than the President believes that enough is enough. I fully support his statement and am hoping for the DFA and DoLE to implement his instructions,” Bertiz said on Saturday.

Bertiz cited three suicides of Filipino domestic workers from December 2017 to January this year and monthly average of 300 to 400 runaway household workers, who seek refuge at the Philippine embassy’s Bahay Kalinga as proofs that a moratorium is called for.

In the President’s speech during the launch of the Overseas Filipino Bank on Friday, he said,” We have lost about four Filipino women in the last few months, always in Kuwait. My advice is we talk to them, tell them it’s not acceptable. We impose total ban. I do not want a quarrel with Kuwait, I respect their leaders but they have to do something about this.”

Bertiz said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier promised that he would impose a ban on domestic workers bound for Kuwait if more deaths occurred, but failed to take action.

“It is disconcerting that the directive to talk to Kuwait about the tragic deaths of our domestic workers in Kuwait had to come from the President himself. Even when the labor secretary promised to stop deployment to Kuwait in light of such tragic incidents, the number of deployed OFWs increased. This may lead to suspicions of corruption and negligence among those in government tasked to look after the welfare of our domestic workers overseas and particularly, in Kuwait. It is an open secret that Kuwait is one of the most lucrative job markets in the Middle East.”

“The President’s instructions are crystal clear and I hope it will spur DoLE through the POEA to take the appropriate action in close coordination with the DFA,” Bertiz said.”

He noted that the President’s statement follows the forthcoming first anniversary of the execution of OFW Jakatia Pawa in Kuwait for the alleged murder of the 22 year-old-daughter of her employer in 2007. Pawa was executed in January 25, 2017 despite protestations of her innocence throughout the court trial.

On the day of Pawa’s execution, a Filipino domestic worker died in a hospital after a severe beating at the hands of her Kuwaiti employer. Several cases of abuse and injustice have since been recorded by the Philippine Embassy and yet the number of domestic workers deployed to Kuwait continues to increase, according to Bertiz.

“It is time for our government to stand up for the rights of our domestic workers not only in Kuwait but here and across the globe. The President’s call is not only timely but it is also grounded on a fair and realistic assessment of the situation of our domestic workers in Kuwait,” Bertiz said. p: wjg