Metro Manila, Philippines– Following the gruesome death of a Filipina domestic helper in Kuwait last week, Senator Raffy Tulfo on Saturday proposed a total labor deployment ban in the Gulf state.
Tulfo wants to gradually pull out overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and send them instead to work in places where they are properly compensated and treated with respect, like Guam.
“Guam is a new market for OFWs currently needing thousands of skilled workers. In fact, Guam, a United States Territory, reportedly prefers to hire more Filipino workers,” he said in a statement.
Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) Secretary Susan Ople earlier dismissed calls for a deployment ban, saying it might hurt international relations with other countries.
“If you impose a deployment ban, you are sending a message that Kuwait is not suitable for workers,” she said in a press briefing on Saturday.
Instead, Ople prefers a review of the bilateral labor agreement with the Kuwaiti government to enhance safeguards and protection for OFWs.
The DMW said it will also look at the recruitment and screening process of OFWs.
“Mayroon ngayong direktiba na tingnan din, suriin din ang sistema ng pagre-recruit para mas lalong protektado ang mga OFWs to Kuwait,” DMW Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said during the press briefing.
[Translation: There is now a directive to review the recruitment system to better protect OFWs to Kuwait.]
But according to Tulfo, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, bilateral talks between the Philippines and Kuwait could still be done after a deployment ban.
To ensure that employers are fit to hire Filipino workers in their homes, Tulfo wants a tight screening process and psychiatric exam for employers, including members of their household, in “high-risk countries.”
The 35-year-old Jullebee Ranara was killed last Jan. 21, allegedly by her employer’s 17-year-old son.
Ranara’s remains arrived in the Philippines on Friday.
Tulfo also wants the Kuwaiti government to issue a public apology not just to Ranara’s family but also to the Filipino people.