• Senate opens probe on deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait


    THE Senate Committee on Labor will investigate the alleged abuses committed against Filipino workers in Kuwait that have resulted in injuries and deaths.

    Headed by Sen. Joel Villanueva, the committee will tackle five resolutions seeking an inquiry on the increasing incidence of abuse on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait filed by Senators Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquaio, Nancy Binay, Sherwin Gatchalian, Grace Poe, Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, and Villanueva himself.

    The investigation stemmed from an order by President Rodrigo Duterte to ban the deployment of OFWs in the Gulf State after the death of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in the Al Shaab area.

    Authorities revealed that Demafelis, 29, may have been stored in the freezer for over a year and could possibly have been tortured and strangled to death.

    The Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) issued Administrative Order 54 on February 12 totally banning the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait following the discovery of Demafelis’ body inside the freezer and the investigation on seven Filipino household workers who died in Kuwait.

    They are Liezl Truz Hukdong, Vanessa Karissha Esguerra, Marie Fe Saliling Librada, Arlene Castillo Manzano, Devine Riche Encarnacion, Patrick Sunga, and Mira Luna Juntilla. They reportedly worked as household service workers in Kuwait.

    Those who confirmed to attend the public hearing were Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd, Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Officer-in-Charge Emmanuel Leyco, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, Presidential Adviser on OFW and Muslim Concerns Abdullah Mama-o, Phil. Association of Service Exporters, Inc. (PASEI) president Elsa Villa, and Phil. Migrants Rights Watch president, Carmelita Nuqui.

    Gatchalian wants to determine the economic effects of the Philippine government’s deployment ban to Kuwait, including the economic impact on the repatriated OFWs and their families and those whose placement has been deferred.

    Poe hopes that Congress will formulate “effective measures and policies” to efficiently assist and protect OFWs and their families before, during and after deployment.

    Angara has pressed for a re-examination of the government’s migration policies in the wake of continued abuses and exploitation suffered by OFWs. BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO



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