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Senate panels urge Philippines to demand apology over OFW deaths in Kuwait

Two Senate committees have urged the Philippine government to demand an apology over the “recurring cases” of murder, physical and financial abuse, maltreatment, and non-payment of monetary benefits to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait.

In a 28-page committee report, the Senate committees on migrant workers and on foreign relations recommended that the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs to relay to the Kuwaiti government the country’s clamor for an appropriate apology.

The demand for an apology was among the recommendations following the two committees' congressional inquiry into the death of OFW Julleebee Ranara.

The Senate panels also told the DMW to revisit, review, and evaluate the existing bilateral labor agreement with Kuwait and consider all issues identified during the committee hearings.

While the DMW already imposed a temporary ban on the deployment of first-time OFWs, particularly domestic helpers to Kuwait, the committees still urged the prohibition “until new protective measures are incorporated.”

The following are among the recommendations included by the committees in their report:

  • Additional documentary requirements from direct employers such as resumes or biodata from them including their household members, medical certificate, police clearance, photos of the house or building showing the working area for the OFWs, and background in employing household service workers, among others;
  • Conduct purging of Philippine Recruitment Agency and Foreign Recruitment Agency, delisting dummies and agencies with records of repeated gross violations;
  • Increase minimum paid-up capital in setting up a PRA from P5 million to at least P30 million to P50 million;
  • Create a list of associations or organizations of OFWs, employees, and/or both, and require them to seek accreditation from the DMW;
  • Use information and communications technology to monitor all OFWs in Kuwait and worldwide; and
  • Call for the abolition of the “kafala” system, similar to what has been undertaken in Bahrain and Qatar, as well as other forms of employment that have the same effect of limiting the protection provided to the OFWs.

—NB, GMA Integrated News