'Displaced OFWs could work for government'

President Rodrigo Duterte

"Escalation does not serve the ties between Kuwait and the Philippines", Sheikh Sabah said, adding that 170,000 Filipinos "live a decent life in Kuwait. but separate accidents unfortunately happen, and we are providing our Filipino counterparts with the results of the investigations".

The first task force, headed by Labour Undersecretary Dominado Say, was tasked to handle the repatriation of OFWs pursuant to the directive of the president to repatriate them within 72 hours.

The measure came after President Rodrigo Duterte angrily lashed out at Kuwait over reports of Filipino workers suffering abuse and exploitation. "A family becomes dysfunctional once a mother or father works overseas", said Duterte about sacrifices of Filipinos.

In a statement, "In addition to the special flights, PAL has been repatriating OFWs using its four weekly Kuwait-Manila regular flights over the past few months".

According to the agency, the amnesty program was approved by the Kuwaiti government in January 2018 upon representations made by the Philipine government through the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. Eight-hundred of them are arriving in the country this week.

On Monday, the day the ban took effect, about 400 Filipinos who applied to be voluntarily repatriated from Kuwait were flown home.

He called on Kuwait to respect the dignity of Filipino workers, noting that they are "no slave to anyone, anywhere and everywhere".

Kuwait has declared an amnesty for Filipino workers who overstayed their visas and are working to help some 500 workers stuck in the country after a company refused to pay their salaries, Villa said.

At least 2,229 Filipinos have been issued travel documents while 1,754 have been granted immigration clearances, Bello said.

Aside from shouldering the cost of the airfare, the Philippine government shall also settle the immigration penalties of overstaying Filipinos.

He added those who opt for repatriation from Kuwait will be given financial and alternative livelihood assistance.

"Every abuse committed against an OFW is an affront against us, as a sovereign nation", he said, and warned he was prepared to ban the deployment of workers there.

Displaced Filipino domestic helpers from Kuwait could consider taking on jobs that will become available once government projects are rolled out under its priority infrastructure program, dubbed as "Build, Build, Build".

It demanded full cooperation by Kuwaiti officials with the Philippine embassy to promote the well-being of Filipino workers and facilitating the early conclusion of a bilateral labour agreement to protect the rights of Filipino household service workers there, he said.

Bello yesterday said the deployment ban to that country would be effective immediately and would last until revoked.

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