Kuwait crackdown on Filipinos denounced

June 6, 2023 PS Jun M. Sarmiento 189 views

SENATOR Raffy Tulfo denounced moves by the Kuwaiti government to crackdown on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are victims of crimes and other abuses despite his suggestions to protect their rights through mandatory pre-engagement seminars, background checks, and psychological and medical exams for employers of domestic workers during a Senate hearing on the murder of domestic helper Jullebee Ranara.

The Kuwaiti government recently moved against documented and undocumented OFWs in Kuwait which resulted in the deportation of multiple Filipinos. There are also claims that shelters rented out by the Philippine Embassy are violative of the Bilateral agreement and its amendments entered in 2012 between the two countries.

Notably, the recent action of the Kuwaiti government to deport some 350 Filipinos was done while negotiations between Kuwait and the Philippines are being undertaken in order to settle the temporary deployment ban imposed on domestic helpers who are statistically more prone to abuses at the hands of their foreign employers.

Tulfo, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Migrants Workers, deplored demands by the Kuwait government for the Philippines to issue an apology for supposedly violating agreements between the two countries, when it should be the other way around.

“We cannot come to the negotiating table on bended knees and folded arms,” Tulfo said. “Imbes na masunod ang mga gusto nating terms at conditions, kabilang na ang apology from the Kuwaiti government, binabaliktad pa nila tayo.”

He emphasized that the Philippines does not lose the right to protect its citizens simply because the crimes and abuses were done in Kuwaiti soil.

“Kadalasan, ang biktimang OFW ay napipilitang pumunta sa ating embahada upang paniguraduhin na hindi sila mapasailalim sa biased na proseso sa paghahabol ng hustisya. Madalas din, kapag pumunta sa pulis ang biktimang OFW, sila ay sinasaoli sa kanilang amo kung saan sila ay nababaliktad at nakakasuhan ng pekeng kaso tulad ng pagnanakaw at nakukulong dahil mas pinaniniwalaan ng pulis sa Kuwait ang kanilang mga kababayan.

“Ang ending nito ay makukulong pa kaysa makakauwi ang ating mga OFW sapagkat wala silang kakayahang lumaban mag-isa laban sa Kuwaiti nationals na pinapaboran ng kanilang batas doon,” he said.

Tulfo stressed that providing shelter for OFWs in distress is a necessity due to the experience of many victims having to sleep in the streets when the embassies’ shelters are at full capacity while they are in the process of complying with the requisites of repatriation or while they are gathering pertinent documents related to filing their own cases.

The senator pointed out that the renting and maintenance of property to serve as OFW shelters is also non-violative of any accord, bilateral agreement, or contractual obligation between Kuwait and the Philippines.