Labor Dept. OKs partial lifting of Kuwait deployment ban

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 6)— Some Filipino workers will soon be allowed to return to Kuwait after the government on Thursday partially lifted the deployment ban.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said said skilled, semi-skilled, and professional workers can now go back to their Kuwaiti employers, .

Newly-hired and returning household workers, however, will still be covered by the partial ban, Bello added.

The partial lifting of the deployment ban was a result of yhe Philippines and Kuwait sealing a deal on the proposed standard employment contract for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Middle Eastern country. 

The template contract for OFWs is under a provision of a 2018 labor deal — an agreement to protect OFWs in Kuwait. Both sides reached an agreement earlier this month after threshing out certain rules in the provision.

Trade Union Congress of the Philippines party-list Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza said that the deployment ban on household service workers should stay.

"Yes, we would say lifting of the ban of the semi (skilled workers) and the highly skilled workers, but the ban on household service workers, who are much exploited in Kuwait, should stay until justice is served for Ms. Villavende," Mendoza told CNN Philippines Newsroom, referring to household helper Jeanelyn Villavende.

The Philippines imposed a total deployment ban to Kuwait in January following the death of Villavende. She was reportedly killed by her Kuwaiti employer, who is now facing charges.

The Labor Secretary previously said the standard contract contains regulations endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte— including allowing Filipinos to keep their passports and cellphones, setting one day off with pay, as well as designating working and sleeping hours for the OFWs.

CNN Philippines' Tristan Nodalo contributed to this report.