Kuwait deployment ban covers new household workers, those with expired contracts: Labor chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 03 2020 12:43 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2020 12:44 PM

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila on Feb. 12, 2018 after repatriation from Kuwait. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - A ban on the deployment of Filipino household workers to Kuwait was expanded to cover new hires and those with expired contracts, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said Friday. 

The policy came after Filipina maid Jeanelyn Villavende was allegedly killed by her employers in December, following her repeated complaints of maltreatment and underpayment of salary. Villavende's employers are in custody, Bello earlier said. 

Kuwait is home to 262,000 Filipinos, nearly 60 percent of them domestic workers, whose remittances are a lifeline to the Philippine economy, according to the foreign ministry.

Philippine and Kuwaiti officials this month will negotiate a template contract that would protect Filipino workers by barring their employers from confiscating their passports and mobile phones, and transferring them to another workplace without the labor attaché's consent, Bello said. 

In 2018, the Philippines also temporarily stopped sending workers to Kuwait after a string of reported abuse and deaths of Filipino workers, including Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in her employer's freezer. 

This led to the signing of an agreement on OFW protection between Kuwait and Manila.

In May last year, Malacañang called for a review of the pact following the death of another Filipina in Kuwait.