LABOR Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd has signed the order lifting the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait but he said the government would ensure that only those who have been trained will be allowed to leave.
With the lifting of the ban, at least 5,000 Filipinos will leave for Kuwait in the coming days, he said.
“There are about 5,000 workers ready for deployment and there are 15,000 or more who are under process. If their papers are ready, they can go,” Bello said on Thursday at the sidelines of the 41st General Membership Meeting of the Overseas Placement Association of the Philippines in Manila.
Bello said the Labor department, through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), would be doubly strict in deploying Filipino workers.
“This time we will be stricter in the deployment. First, we will require the training of OFWs to be deployed. We will make sure that they are properly trained before they are deployed,” he added.
All recruitment agencies would be required to have their own respective Tesda-accredited training center. The training program would be applicable to all overseas workers, whether they are skilled, semi-skilled or household service workers (HSWs).
Bello said the Kuwait government was happy with the outcome of the negotiation that put an end to the diplomatic spat between the Philippines and Kuwait and facilitated the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) that provided better protection for Filipino workers in the Gulf state.
“Everything now is okay. They also assured us to shoulder the transportation expenses for the repatriation of the more than 400 Filipino workers that are still in the shelter houses in Kuwait,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte had repeatedly threatened to pull out all Filipino workers in Kuwait if they continue to experience inhumane treatment.
A day after the signing of the agreement, the President partly lifted the deployment ban to allow skilled and semi-skilled workers to seek jobs in Kuwait.
In exchange, Kuwait released the four Philippine Embassy personnel who were earlier arrested for their role in a controversial rescue operation involving distressed Filipino workers in the Gulf nation.
Kuwait is a top destination for overseas Filipino workers, with some 262,000 Filipinos working there as of 2018.
Of this number, 170,000 are household service workers.
As of February 2018, remittances from Kuwait amounted to P5.5 billion, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.
In 2017, a total of P42 billion was remitted from the Gulf state.
with CATHERINE S. VALENTE