Fact-finding team to review welfare of OFWs in ME – Ople

January 28, 2023 Jun I. Legaspi 136 views

MIGRANT Workers Secretary Susan Ople ordered the deployment of a fact-finding team to Kuwait to assess the performance of its overseas labor post and review pending welfare cases in the Middle Eastern country.

Ople made the announcement during a virtual press conference held Saturday. Accompanying the DMW secretary was Undersecretary for Foreign Employment and Welfare Services Hans Cacdac, Undersecretary for Licensing and Accreditation Bernard Olalia, and Administrator Arnell Ignacio of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of the department.

Cacdac will organize the fact-finding mission led by a senior labor attaché posted outside Kuwait.

“We in the department must go by an evidenced-based approach to labor reform policies. Given also the increase in deployment and welfare numbers in Kuwait last year, it is imperative that we look at the root causes behind these numbers,” Ople said.

She added that the independent team will make an assessment [of] the overall performance and structure of the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) or what was known as the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait.

“With more than a hundred thousand kasambahays in Kuwait, the DMW must increase the monitoring and response mechanisms of our MWO,” Ople said.

Among the parameters, Ople said the fact-finding team will review include a comparative study on the number of welfare cases of distressed OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) over five years, what triggered the rise in these cases, the response time of both Philippine and Kuwaiti authorities and recruitment agencies in addressing calls for assistance, and how engaged were foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs) in monitoring their workers and screening their employers.

“Titingnan nila bakit inordinately high yung mga welfare cases natin sa Kuwait over the past several months. Titingnan din kung nagkaroon ba ng lapses on the part of the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) sa pagtugon sa mga panawagan for welfare assistance among our OFWs. Yung report ng fact-finding mission will be submitted to my office for appropriate action,” Ople explained.

Ople made the announcement a day after the remains of Jullebee Ranara arrived in the country Friday (January 27) night.

Ople reported that, following the Ranara family’s request, the DMW, thru OWWA, has coordinated with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for an autopsy to be conducted on Jullebee’s remains.

Meanwhile, Olalia confirmed that separate recruitment violation cases will be filed against the Philippine and Kuwaiti recruitment agencies that facilitated Ranara’s deployment.

Olalia explained that based on an initial investigation conducted by his office, both agencies failed to comply with the mandatory monitoring required of recruitment agencies to ensure the well-being of their deployed workers.

Ignacio, on the other hand, reported to the media that his office has been looking after the Ranara family.

Ignacio said they are now working for the early release of insurance and other financial claims due to the family of Ranara, who was an active OWWA member at the time of her death.