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3 Senate seatmates back Duterte’s lifting of OFW deployment ban to Kuwait

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Senators Joel Villanueva, Win Gatchalian and JV Ejercito have rallied behind President Duterte’s lifting of the deployment ban to Kuwait of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) especially after an agreement was sealed ensuring the protection of their wellbeing was inked recently.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate on labor committee, said they’re hoping that with the memorandum of agreement (MOA) in place, the abuses against OFWs will be prevented especially among household service workers (HSWs) who are vulnerable to abuse.

“All the more I am determined to push for my bill (seeking) to increase and institutionalize overseas legal assistance fund for our distressed OFWs,” Ejercito said.

Villanueva said they will push for the professionalization of HSWs and the free exercise of their rights in host countries consistent with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 189 on Domestic Work, which the Philippines actively campaigned for to ensure the protection of Filipino HSWs.

Villanueva, who had a meeting Wednesday with Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello, said they were assured that the OFWs in Kuwait will now have a better working conditions.

“One of the things we tackled was the establishment of an OFW Hotline open for our migrant workers 24/7. The OFW Hotline is one tool to better assist our kababayans who want to seek help in Kuwait,” he said.

Gatchalian said the lifting of the ban is the logical step forward after the signing of the landmark MOU, and will help strengthen the country’s relations with Kuwaiti allies.

“Despite the lifting of the ban, however, the government must remain dedicated to working with the Kuwaiti government in ensuring that the rights of OFWs in Kuwait are recognized and upheld,” Gatchalian said.

Gatchalian said government agencies should pursue a tighter crackdown against illegal recruitment, and consistently maintain an updated database of accredited recruiters in order to monitor the outflow OFWs, monitor their conditions, and devise further strategies to safeguard their rights and welfare.