THE Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) yesterday partially lifted the deployment ban to Kuwait for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the POEA Governing Board has already passed a resolution that will allow some OFWs to be deployed to Kuwait.
“The Board of the POEA just came up with a resolution lifting the ban partially. Exempted from the ban are skilled workers, semi-skilled workers, and professionals. Both the new hires and returning (workers) can be deployed already,” Bello said.
But Bello said “household service workers – both new and returning – are still covered by the ban.”
Bello said the POEA directive will be effective immediately.
He said the move is in response to the approval of a harmonized contract of employment for OFWs between Kuwait and the Philippines.
“This is a measure that would provide effective and efficient protection to our overseas workers,” he added.
The move comes nearly a month since the POEA issued Resolution No. 04-2020, which imposed a total deployment ban for all types of Filipino workers to Kuwait.
The ban was imposed on the heels of the killing of Filipina worker Jeanelyn Villavende and the subsequent attempt of the host country to cover-up the true cause of her death.
Asked what would warrant the full lifting of the deployment ban, the labor chief said this might not be happening anytime soon.
“It has to be studied very carefully because there is a school of thought of maintaining permanently the ban on HSWs. So it will take some very serious study before we can consider lifting the ban on HSWs,” Bello said.
He said they will also continue to monitor developments in the case of Villavende.
“Our labor attache came out with a report that the couple employers of Jeanelyn were charged with murder. They are now presently detained at the Central Jail,” said Bello.
NAVY SHIPS IN OMAN
Meanwhile, two Philippine Navy ships arrived at Muscat, Oman on Wednesday to help in the repatriation of OFWs affected by the continuing US-Iraq tension.
BRP Ramon Alcaraz and BRP Davao del Sur berthed at Sultan Qaboos Port on Wednesday afternoon, or 22 days after they were sent off from South Harbor in Manila. The ships made a three-day stop in Sri-Lanka for resupply and re-fuelling.
Navy public affairs officer Lcdr. Maria Christina Roxas said the ships, including the Naval Task Force 82 on board, will stay in Muscat until it gets final instructions from Joint Task Force Pagpauli which is supervising the repatriation.
Roxas said the two ships can transport as much as 500 OFWs back to the Philippines.
“The two navy vessels will serve as a sea-based platform for the government to process and facilitate the repatriation of displaced OFWs,” she said, adding that “the arrival of the PN contingent in Oman signified the tangible means of the government’s effort to ensure that our kababayan will be sent back safe to the Philippines. It further showcased the preparedness of the Navy ships that are now capable to perform overseas deployment.”
Head of mission Col. Noel Beleran and the commanding officers of the two ships paid a courtesy call on Philippine envoy to Oman, Narciso Castañeda, shortly after their arrival.
Beleran said all the personnel onboard the two ships are “all safe and sound.”
“The troops are very happy and in high spirits since this event serves as another milestone for our Navy that we can already transcend across the deep waters of (the) Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea,” he said. – With Victor Reyes