KUWAIT CITY – A Philippine delegation led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III arrived in Kuwait Saturday morning for a 2-day meeting with their counterparts on the welfare and work conditions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The meeting comes amid the Philippines' ongoing ban on the deployment of OFWs in the Gulf state following deaths of Filipina domestic workers in the hands of employers there, most recently maid Jeanelyn Villavende.
Bello said technical working groups from both sides will discuss OFW welfare and protection, with focus on household service workers.
The goal is to craft a standard employment contract between the Philippines and Kuwait.
"Kasi ang tagal na iyan eh (This has taken a long time), that is provided under the memorandum of agreement that was signed last 2018 pa. So hopefully, we can agree on this proposed harmonized contract,” said Bello.
The two countries had signed the memo in 2018 in response to the death of Filipina Joana Demafelis, whose body was found in a freezer at an apartment in Kuwait in February of the same year. Her employer was found guilty for her slay.
The standard contract seek to prevent abuse, with its provisions expected to include allowing household service workers to keep their passports and mobile phones, specifying their work and sleep hours, allowing at least one day off a week with pay, and disallowing their transfer to another employer without their written consent and written approval of the Philippine labor attaché.
The Philippine TWG is composed of Labor Undersecretary Claro Arellano, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, and POEA Directors John Rio Bautista and Ria Corazon Lano.
Before their meeting, Bello and his delegation will have meet with Filipino community leaders on Saturday.
- Report from Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN News