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Pinoy Abroad

Philippines eyes talks with Kuwait on visa suspension for OFWs

A Philippine delegation will, in the next few days or weeks, discuss with the Kuwaiti government its recent move to disallow the entry of  Filipino skilled workers, even if these workers had been issued a visa.

According to JP Soriano's Friday "24 Oras" report, the Kuwaiti government's move was a response to the Philippines' failure to fulfill the conditions of an agreement, among which was the lifting of the deployment suspension on new Filipino domestic helpers and the sheltering of runaway OFWs.

"Kailangan natin ipaliwanag na ang shelter, kailangan yan para sa mga Pilipinong runaway," said DFA Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega. "Alangan naman wala silang mapupuntahan kung tumakas sila."

De vega added, "Sa atin batas tungkol sa mga migrant workers, nakalagay doon kailangan may Filipino center or shelter para sa mga Pilipino."

Furthermore, the Kuwaiti government was unhappy with the strengthened Philippine processes for OFWs who had been abused by their employers.

"Hindi daw kailangan under Kuwaiti law. Ok, ang problema naman diyan, ang ibig sabihin, wala tayong gagawin, wala tayong aksyon kung may reklamo ang Pilipino," said de Vega.

"Ipapaliwanag natin yan na what we want is something that benefits us both. Maintindihan dapat ng Kuwait na may dahilan kung bakit tayo mayroon ganitong mga patakaran."

Last February, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) banned the deployment of first-time domestic workers to Kuwait following the death of overseas Filipino worker (OFW) Julleebee Ranara and other cases of maltreatment of OFWs.

"We will stick to our position na kailangan maximum protection for our workers, justice for our kababayans who were abused or even killed," said de Vega.

Meanwhile, the DMW said it was communicating with recruitment agencies, the DFA, and other stakeholders to analyze the best solution for the affected workers.

"We are also coordinating with our Philippine recruitment agencies, Filipino communities and leaders, and other stakeholders on how to address this development in the best interest of all concerned," DMW said.

It noted that the department was ready to help affected OFWs and encouraged them to call or email the DMW.

However, the DFA clarified that those with an iqama or residence visa could still return to Kuwait even if they are traveling from the Philippines. — Sherylin Untalan/DVM, GMA Integrated News