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Win Gatchalian wants deals with Kuwait replicated with other countries

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The Duterte administration must use the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Philippines and Kuwait as a “blueprint” for future bilateral agreements with other countries who employ overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Senator Win Gatchalian made the remark as Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello announced that the PH-Kuwait MOU “provides concrete safeguards to stop longstanding anti-labor practices that degrade the rights of OFWs.”

For example, the MOU would prohibit Kuwaiti employers from withholding the passports of OFWs, ensure that employment contracts would be based on Philippine labor laws, and require written consent of an OFW before being transferred to a new employer.

“The government should use this MOU as a blueprint for proactively negotiating similar agreements with other countries that attract high numbers of OFWs,” Gatchalian said.

He said that the government should seek similar deals with OFW “receiver countries” whose national laws do not provide adequate protection to migrant workers, especially in the Middle East.

He also said that labor officials must implement Section 4 of the Migrant Workers Act of 1995 or Republic Act No. 8042, as amended, that OFWs “shall only be deployed to countries where their rights are expressly protected by law or treaty.”

“The signing of a bilateral agreement with the Philippines to protect and uphold the most basic fundamental rights of OFWs should be a sine qua non condition for their deployment to a certain country,” Gatchalian said.

“Any country that would refuse to enter into such an agreement does not deserve to benefit from the skills and talents of our distinguished OFWs,” he added.

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