Amid deployment ban, minority lawmakers warn vs illegal recruitment to Kuwait

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 05:18 PM

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Kuwait arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila on Monday February 12, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Minority lawmakers on Wednesday warned against the illegal recruitment of Filipino workers for Kuwait following the government's deployment ban to the Gulf state over persistent reports of abuses against Philippine migrants. 

In a press briefing, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez called on different government agencies to monitor exit points to thwart illegal recruitment and deployment activities.

"We fear that this ban might trigger illegal recruitment of Filipino workers to Kuwait," he said.

"We call on the concerned agencies... to form a joint task force that would monitor the exit of Filipinos bound for Kuwait, and other possible gateways to Kuwait, conduct surveillance operations, gather intelligence reports with regard to illegal recruitment and deployment activities and file criminal charges against offenders," he added.

On President Rodrigo Duterte's orders, the Philippine government has enforced a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait.

Duterte had earlier warned of pulling Filipinos out of the Gulf state amid reports of deaths and abuses of OFWs, the latest of which was of domestic worker Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait.

Suarez, meanwhile, clarified that the House minority supports the deployment ban.

"The Minority condemns the inhumane treatment of foreign employers towards Filipino migrant workers all over the world," he said.

"Filipinos are one of the world's most preferred workers because we are skilled, hardworking, dedicated, and competitive. Ngunit, ang masakit na katotohan, mababa ang tingin, at malupit ang pagtrato sa karamihan ng ating mga kababayan na OFW," he added.

Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers from Kuwait have begun returning to the Philippines as part of the government's repatriation program.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are over 250,000 OFWs in Kuwait. Of the said figure, 170,000 are domestic helpers.