The government of the Philippines has renewed its demand for Kuwait to adopt adequate safeguards to prevent crimes and abuses against Filipino workers, particularly the household employees.
Philippine newspapers and websites reported that Kuwait has taken legal measures against the perpetrator of the murder of the domestic worker, Jollibee Ranara, and the accused has been referred to the judiciary, but more guarantees and controls are required to protect Filipino nationals, reports Al-Qabas daily.
Overseas Filipino Workers Party MP Marisa Magcino called for a review of the 25 bilateral labor agreements the Philippines signed with Kuwait, Gulf states and other countries around the world.
It is worrying that most labor agreements lack explicit provisions related to social security, equal treatment, repatriation, and most importantly, protocols regulating the investigation and prosecution of criminal offences committed against Filipino workers.
While she also indicated that there are leading countries in labor protection, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Brunei and the Sultanate of Oman, with which the Philippines does not have labor agreements, she stressed the responsibility of the state to ensure the protection of its workers while they are abroad by concluding agreements with host countries under the Immigrants and Overseas Filipinos Labor Law.
The newspaper stated that after the death of Jollibee Ranara, the last of the workers in the Philippines who were killed while working in Kuwait, the senators called for either imposing a ban on sending workers to Kuwait or reviewing the labor agreement concluded with that country.
She added that the Philippines had previously banned sending its workers to Kuwait after the body of Joanna Demafelis was found in her employer’s refrigerator in 2018 and Jeanlyn Villavinda was killed in 2019, and the ban was lifted after negotiations between the two countries.
The newspaper quoted a previous statement by Minister of Migrant Workers Affairs Susan Ople, in which she shun the possibility of a proliferation ban, saying that the Philippines would instead continue talks with Kuwait to ensure the protection of Filipino workers deployed there. Opel said the discussions that will take place will be similar to the recent negotiations with Saudi Arabia.
In the context, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Filipino Migrant Workers Abroad, Senator Raffy Tulfo, called on the Philippine government once again to take a tough stance to protect workers.
According to Politico, Tulfo said he had asked the Foreign Workers Welfare Department to provide assistance to Mila Balbagh, who allegedly suffered serious injuries after running away from her employer’s home recently.
The newspaper indicated that the talks are continuing to prevent the recurrence of crimes and abuses against domestic workers, pointing out that the demands included the approval of a new mechanism to follow up on the conditions of domestic workers.
The following four demands are mulled by the Philippines government
— Strict measures to prevent abuses against workers
— Reviewing labor agreements to guarantee rights
— Increasing penalties against violating sponsors
— A new mechanism for monitoring the conditions of domestic workers