MANILA, February 13, 2018 — As the first of hundreds of Filipino workers being repatriated from Kuwait began arriving in Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) vowed today to strictly carry out the President’s directive to prevent more workers from reaching the Gulf state.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said both the DFA and the DOLE will implement the President’s instructions to ensure the protection of the rights and the promotion of the welfare of overseas Filipino workers not just in Kuwait but also in other parts of the world.
Cayetano, who co-chairs the Government Cluster on Overseas Filipino Workers with Bello, said the DFA and the DOLE are also coordinating with other government agencies in taking steps to strictly implement the ban on the deployment of new workers to the Gulf state.
“Our efforts to protect our kababayans will not end with the imposition of deployment bans or the repatriation of our workers in countries where they are prone to maltreatment,” Cayetano said.
“We will also go after illegal recruiters, human traffickers and other modern-day slave traders who continue to victimize our people,” he added.
Bello, for his part, assured Filipino workers who would be repatriated from Kuwait as well as those who would be affected by the ban that they will be assisted in finding alternative employment in the Philippines or abroad.
On Monday morning, DFA and DOLE officials led by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola received the first batch of 377 workers who were repatriated on three commercial flights that left Kuwait on Sunday afternoon.
According to Arriola, the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait are now rushing to repatriate as many as 10,000 overstaying Filipinos who are expected to avail themselves of an amnesty program arranged with the Kuwaiti Government.
“The Embassy and POLO in Kuwait expect that more than 10,000 Filipinos who have overstayed their visas are qualified for repatriation,” she said.
According to Bello, hundreds of Filipinos have been coming to the Embassy daily to register and initiate the process for their repatriation since the first day of the amnesty on January 29.
“To date, some 2,229 Filipinos have been issued travel documents, and 1,754 of already have been granted immigration clearances,” he said.
Bello added that both the DFA and the DOLE have made arrangements with Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific for the repatriation of those already issued travel documents and all those who want to return to the country.
Bello said aside from shouldering the cost of the airfare, the Philippine government will also settle the immigration penalties of overstaying Filipinos.
Upon Cayetano’s instructions, the DFA conveyed to the Kuwaiti Ambassador Saleh Ahmad Althwaik its strongest protest over the abuses and maltreatment, labor violations, and the failure of Kuwaiti authorities to provide protection to Filipino nationals.
Cayetano said the DFA also reiterated its request for concrete action from the Kuwaiti government to address the maltreatment and other abuses suffered by Filipinos in Kuwait.
He said the DFA also requested the full cooperation by Kuwaiti officials with the Philippine Embassy to promote the well-being of Filipino workers and facilitating the early conclusion of a bilateral labor agreement to protect the rights of Filipino household service workers there.