THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has instituted counter-checking measures on departing overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for Kuwait to ensure that they are qualified and made no misrepresentation when they secured their overseas employment certificate (OEC).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd on Wednesday reiterated his instruction to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to strictly scrutinize the OECs issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) or Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to all returning workers or balik-manggagawa who are exempted from the total deployment ban to Kuwait amid reports of misrepresentation by some Filipino workers.
“This is necessary to further ensure their security and welfare before going back to Kuwait,” Bello said.
Hundreds of skilled OFWs affected by the ban have reiterated their appeal to the Labor chief to exempt them from it since they are covered by a separate law for the private sector and need not be part of the proposed memorandum of understanding (MoU) on work policy that the DoLE is negotiating with Kuwait labor officials.
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia earlier warned OFWs, specifically overseas first timers, against misrepresenting themselves as returning workers when applying for an OEC to circumvent the DoLE-issued guidelines on the total deployment ban to Kuwait.
Olalia also warned recruitment agencies from presenting false information or processing travel documents of newly-hired workers to make it appear that they were returning workers. Misrepresentation constitutes a criminal offense under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 as amended by RA 10022.
A balik-manggagawa or returning worker refers to an OFW who has served or is serving his/employment contract and is returning to the same employer and the same job site.
It also refers to an istrative Order 4A, the deployment ban covers only all types of workers being deployed for the first time for overseas employment in Kuwait, without distinction as to skill, profession or type of work.
Exempted are returning workers or OFWs who are vacationing in the Philippines and will be returning to the same employer to finish their contacts at the end of his/her vacation and OFWs who are returning to Kuwait on a new contract with the same employer.
Also exempted are seafarers who will be transiting through or boarding in Kuwait to join their principals are not covered by the total ban.
But skilled workers affected by the deployment ban appealed to Bello to limit the ban to household service workers or domestic workers, saying many of them have already resigned from their local jobs and have no more source of income to support their families since they were looking forward to their deployment to Kuwait.
If the impasse on the deployment ban continues for the next month, the workers said their visas, including their medical results, will already expire since they were only good for three months.
They pointed out that unless their principals would extend their visas, they would definitely remain jobless with no hope of returning to their former local jobs.