Editorial | OFWs in Kuwait and elsewhere

THE FIGURES are distressing. According to Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, there are about 260,000 overseas Filipino workers in Kuwait, 170,000 of whom are domestic workers. Of these, 10,800 are undocumented workers.

The DFA said, in the heels of the announcement of a ban in the deployment of household workers in Kuwait, some 800 OFWs, mostly household workers, were expected to arrive from Kuwait in the coming days.

Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte here said that 120 Filipino workers had died in Kuwait last year. The recent death of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, who was missing for over a year until her body was found in a freezer in Kuwait, was the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

The President ordered a ban on sending OFWs to Kuwait, saying that that Filipinos are not slaves and that abuse against OFWs in the Gulf State is an “affront” to the sovereignty of the Philippines.

Since Sunday, OFWs from Kuwait have arrived and were assisted by the Department of Labor and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, assuring them and their families of assistance from government.

This distressing situation is not new and does not only happen in the Gulf States where most of our domestic workers are located. We also have reports of abuse from neighboring countries, exacerbated by the fact the some of them leave the country as undocumented workers.

The labor department and other agencies looking at the safety and protection of OFWs need to review closely the process of application of workers, taking into consideration the cultural ramifications of the country where OFWs are deployed. Recruitment agencies’ responsibility and accountability towards the people they send out of the country should also be reviewed.

For as long as we continue to send labor out of the country, we will always have to grapple with this distressing situation.CARTOON

Posted in Opinion