Gov’t pressed to act on OFW deaths

BY PRINCE GOLEZ

February 14, 2018

MANILA – The Duterte administration was urged to push for sanctions against abusive employers of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in light of the latest Filipino deaths in Kuwait.

The government was also pressed to look into the policies in sending out workers abroad.

On the order of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Labor department prohibited the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.

Sen. Francis Escudero urged the administration to hold abusive employers accountable.

Hindi dapat tumigil sa simpleng ban lamang o pagpapauwi,” said Escudero. “Dapat panagutin din ang mga Kuwaiti nationals na gumagawa niyan sa ating mga kababayan.”

He stressed the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments must agree on measures in handling incidents of abuse or violence against Filipino workers to prevent more deaths in case Duterte orders to lift the ban.

Under international law, Kuwait has a legal obligation to provide legal redress for victims of “horrendous” crimes there, according to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.

“If Kuwait fails in this regard, it will incur international responsibility for an internationally wrongful act,” he said. “As to the need for justice, we will hold Kuwait responsible under the concept of state responsibility.”

For his part, Sen. Joel Villanueva believes the ban was a “just” decision.

“Our overseas Filipino workers deserve better treatment and protection,” Villanueva said. “Our migrant workers, especially household workers, have long suffered from maltreatment.”

He asked the Labor department and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to review all deployment policies, and ensure the protection of and increase the assistance to afflicted OFWs.

“Abuse, maltreatment and violence have no place in every OFW’s workplace,” said Villanueva. “Their safety and welfare should always be our government’s utmost priority.”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III believes the ban should have covered only household service workers.

Pero siyempre ito napuno na rin ata ang Presidente dahil pito na yata itong namatay,” said Pimentel. “So ang nangyari naka-concentrate sa isang bansa – a total ban on one country.”

Remittances are not worth a life of any OFW, Pimentel said.

“Actually dapat nga pinag-aaralan ng gobyerno ngayon ano iyong pasok ng pera, ano iyong labas ng pera – in the support, assistance to nationals, in the legal fees, in the other expenses just to monitor and supervise them – plus the lives lost,” he said.

The Philippines allows nationals to work abroad “para gumanda ang buhay ng tao but if we are losing lives then iba na pong usapan iyan,” he added./PN