CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 September 2018

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Philippines lifts Kuwait labour deployment ban

MANILA (UCAN): The Philippines lifted its ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait following the signing of a deal on May 11 that provides additional protection for Filipinos in the Gulf state.
 
The president, Rodrigo Duterte, ordered the ban to be lifted on May 16, ending months of tension with Kuwait that resulted in the expulsion in April of the Philippine ambassador to the oil rich country.
 
Labour secretary, Silvestre Bello, said, “The president deemed that our overseas workers are protected in Kuwait and he will no longer see incidents of maltreatment, hopefully.” 
 
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the Episcopal Commission for the Protection of Migrants and Itinerant, welcomed the agreement.
 
“We are very thankful to the government officials of the Philippines and Kuwait for signing the (agreement),” said the bishop.
 
Bishop Santos said the agreement has to be “the cornerstone of protecting and promoting the rights and welfare of our (migrant workers)” and a “testament of common collaboration, mutual respect and understanding of both countries.”
 
Under the agreement, both countries vowed to “uphold ethical policies, systems and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers.” 
 
Duterte put a temporary stop to the sending of workers to the Gulf state in February after the discovery of the body of a domestic worker who was murdered by her employers.
 
The president then declared a permanent ban on April 30 and called on Filipinos to come home if they were being mistreated after Kuwait expelled the Philippine ambassador.
 
The ambassador was ordered to leave after embassy staff reportedly tried to rescue Filipino domestic workers amid reports of abuse.
 
Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary, Allan Peter Cayetano, and Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah Kahalid Al Hamad Al Sabah, signed the agreement, which states that domestic workers will now be allowed to keep their passports and mobile phones. 
 
The Philippine Overseas Labour Office will also have to approve the renewal of contracts, contrary to the previous practice of automatic renewal.
 
The agreement also requires employers to provide domestic workers with food, housing, clothing and health insurance.
 
An estimated 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, more than half of them as domestic workers. 

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