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Deployment ban covers only new hirees – DOLE

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Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait who are currently vacationing in the country are allowed to leave and return to their jobs, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said on Wednesday.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the statement upon learning that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has issued a new directive exempting “Balik Manggagawa” passengers from the deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait.

“With this development, there is no more obstacle and impediment for these ‘Balik Manggagawa’ OFWs to return to their jobs in Kuwait,” he said.

“As for those who have just been recruited to work in Kuwait. We are sorry but we cannot let you leave,” the BI chief added.

Likewise, he said Kuwait-bound Filipinos with short-term non-working visas will be allowed to depart as they are not covered by the ban.

Earlier, BI personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were compelled to defer the departure of more than a hundred OFWs to Kuwait as they awaited the DOLE’s decision on their fate.

For his part, Mariñas ordered BI officers in all the ports to adopt stricter screening procedures and rigid inspection of all departing passengers.

“It is imperative that our immigration officers exercise extra vigilance in order to thwart attempts by the illegal recruiters and human trafficking syndicates to circumvent the ban by employing all sorts of dirty schemes,” the BI official said.

The DOLE said the total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait only covers newly-hired workers.

“The total deployment ban covers all types of workers being deployed for the first time for overseas employment in Kuwait, without distinction as to skill, profession or type of work,” said the agency’s Administrative Order No. 54A issued Wednesday.

“The ban exempts Balik-Manggagawa or the OFWs who are vacationing in the Philippines and will be returning to the same employer to finish their contacts, at the end of his/her vacation; and OFWs who are returning to Kuwait on a new contract with the same employer,” the DOLE said.

The order added that seafarers who would be transiting through or boarding in Kuwait to join their principals are not covered by the total ban.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Employment Certificate (OECs) to be issued by Philippine Overseas Employment Administration/Philippine Overseas Labor Office of all Balik-Manggagawa who are exempted from the ban must undergo counter-checking process from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to further ensure their security and welfare before going back to Kuwait.

Following the directive from President Rodrigo Duterte, the DOLE on Monday implemented a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait due to the number of deaths involving OFWs in the host country.

Since then, hundreds of Filipino workers have been repatriated. (PNA)