ABS-CBN News - Total ban on OFW deployment to Kuwa

Total ban on OFW deployment to Kuwait not justified, says lawyer


Posted at Feb 13 2018 05:05 PM

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

MANILA - There is no clear danger to justify the government's total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait, a lawyer said Tuesday.

Speaking to ANC, lawyer Barney Almazar of Gulf Law said that while Filipinos appreciate the government's concern for overseas workers, a ban on deployment may not be the proper move to address job problems.


"Definitely his (President Rodrigo Duterte) message sends a strong warning not just to Kuwait but to the whole world that Filipinos are not to be abused. But at the same time, overseas Filipinos are also worried that they might lose their job and there is also fear of uncertainty on what will happen to them," Almazar said in a phone interview with ANC.

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The Philippine government on Monday said it has imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait on President Rodrigo Duterte's orders.

This after Duterte lamented the death of Filipina Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer at an abandoned apartment in Kuwait. Investigation of the case is ongoing, but signs of abuse were seen on the body. 

In a speech last week, Duterte expressed outrage at reports of abuse of Filipino workers in the hands of their Kuwaiti employers. 

Almazar said a total ban may not be the solution and that the Philippine government should instead find a balance on how it could protect Filipinos abroad while upholding their right to work overseas.

"We need to balance the right of the government to protect its people, and the right of the people to look for travel and work, he said.

"The justice system in Kuwait is still functioning. The Kuwaiti government is not denying any Filipino the right to access their court or seek police assistance. There is no war in Kuwait. There is no systematic attack directed [at] Filipinos so there is no clear and present danger to justify the total deployment ban," he added.

Almazar suggested that the Philippine government increase the visibility of representatives in the Middle East to address concerns of Filipino workers there.

In terms of deploying Filipino workers in Kuwait to other countries, Almazar said the idea is just a "quick fix."

"I think (transferring affected OFWs to other countries) is just a quick fix. It doesn't really provide a concrete solution. There's no guarantee that other countries will treat our Filipinos with respect and dignity. The government should build a strong local Filipino community in the host country," he said.




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