Following Ranara slay, DMW says to defer first-time job applications to Kuwait

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2023 01:40 PM

Distressed OFWs at the Kuwait International Airport Terminal 4 waiting for check-in procedures in this photo taken in 2020. Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau/file
Distressed OFWs at the Kuwait International Airport Terminal 4 waiting for check-in procedures in this photo taken in 2020. Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau/file

MANILA — The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Wednesday said it will defer the application of first-time Filipino workers seeking for household service-related jobs in Kuwait until "significant reforms have been made."

In a statement, DMW Secretary Susan "Toots" Ople said that the Philippines and Kuwait are set to have bilateral talks following the murder of migrant worker Jullebee Ranara.

Ople said that her department wanted to make sure that there were proper monitoring and response systems in place in Kuwait before allowing first-time Filipino laborers to work there.

She noted that the DMW opted for deferment instead of a total deployment ban because some migrant workers who have already worked in Kuwait for several years "want to go back to their old employers or seek new ones."

"We have also been informed through diplomatic channels of the willingness of the Kuwait government to engage in bilateral labor talks. We are preparing well in advance for these talks, bringing with us an accumulation of abuse done over the years, hence the need for significant changes," she said.

Ople added that she remained "optimistic that significant changes" would be made on the labor agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait, citing results from the talks the government had with Saudi Arabia last November. 

"As a result of our talks with Saudi Arabia, a joint technical working group was created to thresh out various problems and concerns, and that group meets every week through virtual means," she said.

While the deferment is in effect, Ople recommended first-time Filipino workers to seek employment in other countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Hong Kong remains a strong alternative and is much nearer to home, and we also have Singapore where we have very good relations with our counterpart ministry,” she said.

The deferment came weeks after Ranara, a 35-year-old domestic worker, was found murdered and her body burned in a Kuwaiti desert on Jan. 21. A suspect was arrested less than a day after Ranara's body was found, who authorities determined was her former employer's 17-year-old son.

The Kuwaiti government, particularly its foreign minister Sheikh Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, has since condemned the crime. 


Meanwhile, Ople also said that the DMW would be working closely with other government agencies to extend assistance to Filipino workers affected the powerful earthquake that struck Turkey and Syria.

“I have instructed the DMW to share information with the AFP rescue mission bound for Turkiye regarding the names of overseas workers deployed to the said country. We will also open a 24/7 hotline to respond to calls for assistance including queries from anxious families. The nearest Migrant Workers Office is in southern Lebanon, and a team from that office will be heading for Turkiye soon,” she said.

The DMW has activated its 1348 hotline as a "handling center for families of OFWs in the affected areas seeking information about their loved ones."

About 193 Filipinos were affected by the massive quake in three Turkish provinces: 113 in Hatay, 51 in Adana, and 29 in Gaziantep.


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