Lawmaker pushes Blacklisting system of erring employers in Kuwait

Manila, Philippines – Kabayan Partylist Rep. Ron Salo said on Tuesday that said Tuesday the government could devise a blacklisting system against abusive and erring employers and recruitment agencies to protect overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) deployed to Kuwait.

During a Laging Handa public briefing, Salo – also chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs – said blacklisting Kuwaiti employers and recruitment agencies with bad track records would be a preventive measure to bar them from hiring OFWs.

“There were a lot of things that were discussed yesterday regarding proactive measures. One of them is what we call blacklisting. There are about 6,000 reports of abuse, etc. from our Filipino workers against foreign employers in Kuwait. The question is: out of the 6,000 complaints, are they [abusive foreign employers] already included in the blacklist?” Salo said.

The congressman stressed the need for recruitment agencies to monitor the working conditions of OFWs after the killing of Jullebee Ranara, the 35-year-old household worker whose burnt body was found in a desert in Kuwait a week ago.

“And, may magandang pong binabanggit din si Secretary Toots Ople, kung possible na magkaroon po tayo ng algorithm na for example, in certain areas na very prone doon sa pang-aabuso or certain types of groups or certain sector, mataas po iyong chance na maabuso, eh dapat mas babantayan po ng recruitment agency at ng DMW (Department of Migrant Workers) natin (Secretary Toots Ople made a good suggestion. If it is possible to create an algorithm wherein for example, in certain areas, groups, or sectors with high rates or chance of abuse, the recruitment agencies and the DMW could closely monitor these),” he said.

Salo said his panel would schedule its own hearing on Ranara’s death by next week.

Ranara’s burned body was found in a desert in Kuwait last week. The suspect, the 17-year-old son of Ranara’s employers, is now in the custody of Kuwaiti authorities.

Ranara’s body was brought home last Friday.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who personally visited the OFW victim’s wake and condoled with her family, said Monday Ranara’s retirement and death benefits have been turned over by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to her family.

The OWWA has also extended burial assistance and support for her four children’s educational needs.

Meanwhile, Marcos said the government is also scheduling bilateral meetings with the government of Kuwait to review its bilateral labor agreement with the Gulf state.

OFW Jennifer Arciaga has called for holding recruitment agencies accountable for their neglect of workers like Jullebee.

She told Hong Kong News in a Facebook message, “Not all Middle East countries are (treating OFWs) bad. We really have to ban agencies who are useless. Those agencies who are kind when you apply but once you’re there (in the destination country), they don’t care.”
In an earlier statement sent to Hong Kong News, Migrante-International has called the Philippine government to seek justice for Jullebee, order the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait to be more alert and atentive to OFWs’ complaints and cries for help.

They also called for the investigation and punishment of Philippine officials in Kuwait for possible neglect of duty.

The group also urged the government to push for measures that will alleviate the working and living conditions of Filipino domestic workers in Kuwait.

Migrante also asked for the abolition of kafala system which meants “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.