DMW Secretary Ople not keen on OFW deployment ban to Kuwait “for now”

Manila, Philippines – After Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople issued a statement saying that she is not in favor of the proposed deployment ban of OFWs to Kuwait, an OFW from Hong Kong, Evelyn, said she agrees with the said ban given the series of deaths suffered by Pinoys working in the said Gulf state.

“Dapat po pumayag na lang na I ban ang Kuwait at huwag nang mgdeploy dun sunod sunod na po kasi ang pagkamatay Ng mga kababayan natin doon. Marami naman po pwedeng pag aplayan ng ating mga kababayan,” she said in a Facebook message to Hong Kong News.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Ople said that DMW appreciates the good intentions behind the said calls to impose a deployment ban to Kuwait.

“But I have always believed in social dialog as the all-important first step in resolving labor migration concerns,” Ople said.

“It does not mean we are insensitive to such calls. It only means that for now, we wish to resort to labor diplomacy to add more safeguards and ensure that justice is pursued on behalf of Jullebee and her family.”

She likewise acknowledged the quick response of Kuwaiti authorities specifically the arrest of principal suspect less than 24 hours after Jullebee’s body was seen.

Ople further said that the said authorities also extended their full help in the repatriation of OFWs that have been staying in the shelter.

“There is a working, productive relationship between the Philippines and Kuwait that can be further enhanced not by imposing a deployment ban but by revisiting the existing Bilateral Labor Agreement (BLA),” she added.

The DMW chief noted that the said new BLS will give additional protection for OFWs even as she believed more would be accomplished “to protect our workers with the cooperation of the Kuwaiti government.”

Migrante International, who earlier condemned Ranara’s brutal murder, said it is also not in favor of calling for a deployment ban in Kuwait.

“Such call will only intensify human trafficking or encourage Filipinos to enter Kuwait through other channels since many
Filipinos are forced to find work even abroad in order to survive,” the group told Hong Kong News in an emailed statement Friday.

“The worsening economic situation in the Philippines and the growing unemployment is the root causes of Philippine forced migration,” it added.

Instead, in relation to the series of deaths and abuse suffered by OFWs in Kuwait, Migrante has called the Philippine government to do the following:

With the successive deaths and abuse of our kababayans in Kuwait, Migrante-International
calls on the Philippine government to do the following:
(1) Seek justice for Jullebee. Her murderers must be brought to court and imprisoned.
(2) Order the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to be more alert and attentive to OFWs’ complaints and cries for help. Expand repatriation and other services for distressed OFWs there.
(3) Probe and punish possible neglect of duty among Philippine officials in Kuwait, as shown by the deplorable conditions suffered by distressed OFWs in the country.
(4) Push for measures that will alleviate the working and living conditions of Filipino domestic workers and OFWs in Kuwait.
(5) In particular, push for reforms in, if not the abolition of the kafala system, which has meant total control of employer over domestic workers and OFWs.

They however said these are just band aid solutions and the government can “only do so much to protect our OFWs.”

“As long as the Philippine government and economy remain highly-dependent on migrant Filipinos’
remittances, cases of abuse and even murder of our kababayans will not end,” the group said in a strongly worded statement.

Ranara’s body was discovered Sunday. Authorities said her remains appeared to have been burned and abandoned in the desert in Kuwait.

The 17-year-old suspect who is also son of Ranara’s employer, is now under the police custody in Kuwait.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has assured the family of Ranara will get full assistance from the government.

This includes among others the P220,000 assistance from OWWA, burial assistance, insurance and scholarship support to Ranara’s children until they graduate from school.