CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 17 March 2018

Print Version    Email to Friend
Create jobs so Filipinos don’t have to work abroad bishop says

MANILA (UCAN): As many as 250,000 Filipinos will be affected by a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait, according to a Philippine government estimate.
The ban, ordered by the president, Rodrigo Duterte, came following the discovery of the body of 29-year-old Joanna Daniella Demafelis in a freezer in an apartment in Kuwait. Her remains had reportedly been stored there for a year and authorities said marks on her body indicated she was strangled.
Duterte had earlier suspended sending of workers to Kuwait after reports came out that several Filipinos were driven to commit suicide due to abuse by employers. 
“I will sell my soul to the devil to look for money so that you can come home and live comfortably here,” Duterte said in a February 13 speech at the presidential palace.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People of the Philippine Catholic bishop, said that the ban was welcomed as it sends a message that “enough is enough.”
“A life of a (migrant worker) is precious. We should protect life, (workers’) rights should be respected, their dignity promoted,” the bishop said.
However, he added that while Church leaders appreciated government efforts in helping workers, jobs should also be made available for those returning. 
“Let us create more jobs so that they will never be forced to work abroad (and) be separated from their families,” he said.
Bishop Santos said those found guilty of abusing workers should be prosecuted while government agencies involved in sending workers abroad should be investigated and punished.
Kuwait’s foreign minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah, warned that the Philippine decision to bring home workers could damage ties between the two countries.
“We are surprised and we condemn statements from the Philippine president, especially as we are in contact with the Philippines at a high level to explain the workers’ conditions in Kuwait,” he said. 
He said Duterte’s decision “does not serve the ties between Kuwait and the Philippines,” adding that Filipinos “live a decent life in Kuwait.”
Every year, at least a million Filipinos leave the Philippines to work abroad, or about 4,500 every day, according to data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
It estimates that 12.5 million Filipinos currently work or reside abroad, sending home in 2017 about US$32.8 billion ($256.6 billion) in remittances, a 4.5 per cent increase from 2016.
According to the World Bank, the Philippines is the third biggest remittance-receiving country in the world, after India (US$65.4 billion) and China (US$62.9 billion). 

More from this section