Philippines Assistant Labor Attaché Cathy Duladul

“Philippine government must provide airlines to anyone wishing to go home in this time of crisis. If Indonesia was able to provide their nationals airlines to return to their countries when they airlifted household helpers, I don’t’ see any excuse why Philippines can’t do the same”

25,000 Filipinos in Kuwait are expected to endure a no work no pay scheme in the coming months as many companies have shut down operations due to the government’s directives to control the spread of COVID-19 in the country. The inability of the companies to raise sales have caused many to deny salaries to thousands of Filipinos working in the country at present.

In a brief interview, Philippines Assistant Labor Attaché Cathy Duladul told The Times that there are at least 240,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and 60% of which are household helpers, which are considered on a stable situation as they have accommodations, food and continuous income. 10% are working for different local ministries and established companies, who are till now paying regular salaries of their workers and that 30% are expected to go through a no work and no pay chaos.

“There are currently 18,000 OFWs who already submitted their applications for funds of US 200 from the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) via Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait. We expect the number to balloon to 25,000 at least and the number somehow represents the same number of OFWs without pay at the moment,” stated Duladul.

Thousands have already aired their grievances to their companies for not receiving their salaries from as early as the month of February 2020. Many have been asked to go on forced leave, unpaid local and foreign vacations and termination without end of service benefits.

“I wanted to go home back to the Philippines, but even airfares have soared, which make it impossible to avail. I urge the Philippine government to provide airlines to transit these OFWs who wish to leave and return home. If Indonesia was able to provide their nationals airlines to return to their countries when they ban their household helpers, I don’t’ see any reason why Philippines can’t do the same,” commented Aries Camuang, an engineer by profession.

Filipinos battle against depression, emotional and financial stress and mental exhaustion due to no income from their companies. In some cases, many have been pushed to borrow money at higher interest from individuals in order to pay for their rents and food subsidy as no food allocations have been provided for except for food pack from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) which composed of two kilos of rice grains, 4 pack instant noodles and canned goods as well as from other organizations and individuals who extend donations to chosen public.

Currently, DOLE-POLO have been receiving applications for financial aid from OFWs who are with no work and no pay and to date the number has reached to 18,000 and expected to reach 25,000 by the end of May. OWWA has also asked for the assistance of Filipino Community organizations for help in distributing grocery packs to OFWs in different areas from 5th of April till today.

In a comment released by Minster of Health Sheikh Dr. Basel Al Sabah that efforts were going on to cut restrictions as much as possible and added that work resumption is unlikely after Eid Al-Fitr holidays. In addition, Parliament Member Abdulkareem Al-Kandari asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask the Egyptian, Philippines, Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh embassies to help their nationals, instead of being content with watching the situation silently.

Ricky Laxa / Staff Writer

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