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Pinoy Abroad

PHL-Kuwait talks on OFW protection to resume in Manila

Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will resume negotiations with Kuwait for an ideal labor agreement to protect OFWs, especially household service workers.

According to a statement by the DFA on Tuesday, an eight-member team from Kuwait will be in Manila from March 15 to 16 for talks on the proposed bilateral agreement.

“We are looking forward to the conclusion of this bilateral agreement that we hope will be a model document in terms of providing the necessary guarantees to ensure the safety and well-being of our household service workers in Kuwait,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said.

The Philippines has banned the deployment of newly hired OFWs to Kuwait following reports of abuses, chief among them was the killing of Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer.

Cayetano and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III met on Monday with foreign affairs and labor officials at the Manila Hotel to discuss the negotiations.

The Philippines and Kuwait are negotiating on the “Agreement on Domestic Workers’ Recruitment, Employment, and Protection Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the State of Kuwait.”

In a statement on Sunday, Cayetano said more "pragmatic" measures are needed as negotiations with Kuwait move forward to protect Filipino workers "from exploitation and abuse."

On Monday, Cayetano said President Rodrigo Duterte wants every item on this agreement to be translated into "real, actionable measures" and repeated commitments secured by the Philippines from last week's talks.

These include the minimum monthly salary of KD120.00; rest hours of at least eight hours per day; possession of their passports and mobile phones; and limiting their work to only one household.

Ambassador Ghanim Saqer Al-Ghanim, Assistant Minister for Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will lead the Kuwaiti delegations.

Officials from the Residence Affairs Department of the Ministry of Interior and the Public Authority for Manpower of the Ministry of Labor will populate the panel. —Rie Takumi/KBK, GMA News