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Three exceptions to Duterte's 'total ban'
February 17, 2018, 3:09 pm

A top Philippine official had issued an order on 14 February, clarifying exemptions to the ‘total ban’ on the deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait. The move came as a result of a series of incidents that led to the deaths and injuries of a number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), mostly domestic workers, in Kuwait. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the ban.

Administrative Order No. 54-A, signed by Secretary Silvestre Bello III, is addressed to ‘all concerned’ to observe the new guidelines and exemptions on the imposed total deployment ban of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to Kuwait.

On 12 February, immigration authorities in the Philippines started enforcing a travel ban of Kuwait-bound OFWs. Bello was earlier quoted as saying that not all OFWs in Kuwait will be mandated to pack up and leave. He added that Philippine authorities will also review whether or not the ban should include Filipino expats who are currently on vacation, or those under the Balik Manggagawa (exit clearance) program.

The move, however, had caused confusion among workers, diplomats and even airport authorities in Manila. On 12 February, hundreds of workers were initially denied clearances from the immigration and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

Bello has clarified in the February 14 order, an addendum to the earlier Executive Order No. 54 (2018), the following exceptions to the ban:
The administrative order signed by Philippine Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III. –
a) Workers who are vacationing in the Philippines and will be returning to the same employer to finish their contracts and at the end of his/her vacation.
b) Balik Manggagawa workers who are returning to Kuwait on a new contract with the same employer; and
c) Seafarers who will be transiting through or boarding in Kuwait to join their principals.

Moreover, the order stipulated a ‘counter-checking process’ prior to the issuance of an exit pass for overseas Filipino workers. The issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) to be issued by POEA/Philippine Overseas Labour Office to Balik-Manggagawa workers exempted from the ban as specified above, shall require prior clearance from the Overseas Workers Welface Administration (OWWA).

The Philippines had previously instituted deployment bans to Lebanon, Libya and Iraq during war-time periods in these countries.


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