DOLE orders total ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 12) — The government on Monday signed the administrative order to completely ban the deployment of all workers to Kuwait, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced Monday.

"In pursuit of national interest, a total ban on deployment of all OFWs to Kuwait pursuant to the directive of the President is hereby enforced. Order takes effect immediately," he said in a media briefing.

He clarified not all workers will be forced to go home.

"Yun lang gustong umuwi, at saka yung dapat umuwi. Halimbawa wala naman trabaho doon. Yun ang tutulungan umuwi. Pero yung mga andun na maganda ang trabaho, maganda ang treatment sa kanila ng employer nila they can stay for as long as they want," the Labor Secretary said.

The department is still studying whether the order will cover returning OFWs who currently have contracts in Kuwait.

The order comes after authorities discovered the body of a Filipina inside the freezer of her employers in Kuwait, and amid the investigation on seven Filipino household workers killed in Kuwait.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippine government will hold Kuwait responsible for the horrendous crimes under state responsibility.

Over 400 OFWs were brought back home on Monday morning as part of the government's mass repatriation program.

He added 150 more will arrive on Tuesday and 250 more will go back to the Philippines on Wednesday.

Aside from the administrative order against OFWs' deployment to Kuwait, DOLE also created a task force that will visit Filipino workers in Middle Eastern countries and assess their living conditions. Another task force will hold job fairs in these countries to recruit workers. The department also created a task force that will focus on the repatriation of OFWs from Kuwait.

Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa estimates around 10,000 OFWs are overstaying in the country. Around 8,000 or 80 percent of them are domestic workers, and majority of whom have claimed abuse from employers.