Deployment ban stays until Kuwait ‍honors 2018 labor agreement

By: Julie M. Aurelio, Tina G. Santos - Philippine Daily Inquirer | January 17,2020 - 01:23 PM

The total deployment ban of workers to Kuwait will remain in effect “until we get justice for Ms [Jeanelyn] Villavende and a consensus on the standard employment contract,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a press briefing on Thursday.

“If we cannot get that, there will be no deployment. It has to be simultaneous,” Bello added of the ban approved on Wednesday in a Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) resolution.

Bello heads the POEA governing board.

The labor official said the total ban was imposed “because of the very brutal killing of our overseas Filipino worker, Ms Villavende, (and) because of the attempt by the Kuwaiti government to cover up the real cause of her death.”

A third reason, Bello cited, was “the failure of the Kuwait government to come to an agreement regarding the finalization of the standard employment contract that should be agreed upon (with) the Philippines.”

The standard employment contract would reflect the provisions of a 2018 labor agreement between the two countries seeking to protect Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state, he added.

The agreement was signed in 2018 after the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban following the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer.

The newly imposed total deployment ban covers household service workers, semiskilled and skilled workers, as well as professionals including Filipino seafarers.

However, skilled workers and professionals who have unexpired contracts, and those who will be cleared by the secretary of labor, are exempt from the ban.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Philippines did not see any need to amend the 2018 agreement with Kuwait, which seeks to protect OFWs and domestic workers there.

“[We want it to be] strict. We’re asking them to implement it. Otherwise, the ban remains,” Panelo said in a press briefing.

“That is precisely why there is a total deployment ban. Until such time that the terms of the MOA (memorandum of agreement) are incorporated in each labor contract between the employer and the employee, the ban remains,” the Palace official said.

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