Malacañang said the Philippines’ ties with Kuwait have normalized as it announced the signing of the memorandum of agreement to provide legal protection for Filipino domestic workers in the Middle Eastern country.
“Nagkaroon ng deklarasyon ang dalawang bansa na itigil na ang hidwaan and we will move on. Kaya the first step in moving on is the MOA,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced late Saturday night in a press briefing upon his arrival from Kuwait with 87 repatriated domestic workers.
Under the MOA, the Philippines and Kuwait undertake to “uphold ethical recruitment policies, systems, and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers, subject to the applicable laws and regulations of both parties.”
Secretary Roque stressed with the MOA, Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait will now be governed by a standard contract.
“Ang importante po ay ‘yong standard contract din na papipirmahan sa lahat ng empleo ng mga domestic workers, hindi lang ng mga Pilipino kung hindi ‘yong mga dayuhan na nagtatrabaho bilang domestic workers.”
The MOA ensures employers will provide food, housing, clothing, and the registering of the domestic worker in Kuwait’s health insurance system. It also provides one month’s salary to workers for every year of service rendered after the expiration of the work contract.
The agreement was signed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Cayetano and Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
“Nagkaroon na po tayo ng mga safeguards para po mapangalagaan ‘yong ating mga kababayan na magtatrabaho sa Kuwait,” Sec. Roque said.
Moreover, the Palace official also announced the lifting of the deployment ban for skilled and semi-skilled workers to Kuwait, which he said was the next step in the normalization of diplomatic ties with Kuwait.
The President’s spokesperson said the government is also considering lifting the deployment ban on domestic workers soon.
“Naiwan po si Secretary [Abdullah] Mamao sa Kuwait at iniiwan namin kay Secretary Mama-o ang obligasyon na magrekomenda kay Presidente kung dapat na bang tuluyan i-lift ang lahat ng ban sa deployment, pero ngayon po ang pinag-aaralan ng [Department of Labor and Empoyment] ay ‘yong issue na paano talaga mapa-improve ‘yong training ng ating mga domestic workers nang mabawasan ‘yong mga issue ng takas,” he said.
Roque said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III will implement reforms on the recruitment of domestic workers before the ban on their deployment is lifted.
“Magkakaroon po ng mandatory training na babayaran ng mga recruiters dahil sila naman ang kumikita ng malaki doon sa recruitment fee na chinacharge nila sa mga Kuwaiti na nais mag-employ ng mga domestic workers at nang sa gano’n, ‘yong adjustment ay hindi na mahirapan ‘yong mga magtatrabahong domestic workers diyan sa Kuwait,” he said.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Special Envoy to Kuwait Abdullah Mama-o headed the Philippine delegation in the MOA signing which provides protection to overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) in Kuwait. Assisting them were former Labor Secretary Marianito Roque, Labor Attaché Rustico dela Fuente, and Deputy Chief of Mission in Kuwait Mohd Noordin Lomondot.