Philippines OKs total deployment ban of workers to Kuwait

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15)— The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has approved the total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait.

In a resolution dated January 15 and released Thursday, the agency’s governing board said the government will stop the processing and deployment of all Filipino workers—including household service, semi-skilled, skilled, and professional— to the Gulf State.

The move came following the release of the local autopsy results on Jeanelyn Villavende, a Filipina domestic worker allegedly killed by her Kuwaiti employers in December.

POEA said the National Bureau of Investigation’s findings, which showed that the 26-year-old was “sexually abused and brutally murdered”, countered Kuwaiti officials “inadequate” autopsy report—which only highlighted Villavende’s physical injuries.

Exempted from the ban, however, are skilled workers and professionals categorized as balik-manggagawa-- or employees who took time off for vacation and holidays.

No more issuance of overseas employment certificates

The latest ban would prohibit the government from issuing overseas employment certificates (OEC) to Filipino workers, Senate Labor Committee Chair Joel Villanueva clarified on Thursday.

“Meaning to say, minsan kahit may contract na kayo sa recruitment agency at recruitment agency sa ibang bansa, wala ‘yung OEC, hindi kayo makakatuloy,” Villanueva told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

[Translation: Meaning to say, even if you have a contract with the local recruitment agency and the recruitment agency of other countries, if you don’t have the OEC, you won’t able to fly out.]

The lawmaker, however, said those who have already paid for the documents may ask for refund from POEA.

“Ang good news, nakausap namin ang POEA, pwede niyong i-refund 'yan sa inyong recruitment agencies. At kung hindi kayo i-refund, i-reklamo niyo sa POEA,” he added.

[Translation: The good news is, we talked to POEA. You can refund it from your recruitment agencies. If you don’t get your refund, you can send a complaint to POEA.]

POEA earlier this month imposed only a partial deployment ban, which covered newly-hired household service workers.

READ: Admin case filed vs. recruiter of slain OFW in Kuwait

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III previously said the ban may be lifted if Kuwaiti courts take appropriate action on the Filipina’s case.

Foreign authorities, however, have yet to confirm if the suspects— Villavende's Kuwaiti employers— have already been charged.