Duterte: Gov't looking into other countries where Filipino workers 'suffer brutal treatment'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said the government is looking into countries where Filipino workers are receiving poor treatment.

"We are doing an audit now to find out the places where we deploy Filipinos and our countrymen suffer brutal treatment and human degradation," Duterte told the media after visiting the wake of slain domestic worker Joanna Demafelis.

The President, however, said he could not disclose the countries yet, as they still have to consider both reported and unreported abuse.

This comes in the wake of the government's total deployment ban for new workers in Kuwait on February 12 after authorities found Demafelis' body inside the freezer of her Lebanese employees in the Gulf State, which possibly had been there for over a year.

Duterte said searching for Demafelis' employers lies in the hands of the Kuwaiti police and the International Criminal Police Organization.

"The only way to [give justice to Joanna's family] is we can have the result of the investigations kung nahuli 'yang dalawang tao and that would allow me now to initiate charges," Duterte said.

Thousands of distressed workers in Kuwait have come home in February through the government-sponsored repatriation program.

Senator Win Gatchalian earlier said he is considering proposing the expansion of the total deployment ban to other countries that are partially-compliant with international and local labor laws.

The Foreign Affairs Department (DFA) certified Kuwait as partially compliant as the Gulf country still cooperates with the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said.

According to the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act, the DFA will recognize a country as compliant if they either have existing labor and social laws protecting rights of workers, including migrant workers.

Countries may also be considered compliant if they have a bilateral agreement with the government on the protection of the rights of workers, or if they are signatories or ratifiers of multilateral conventions, declarations, or resolutions relating to the protection of migrant workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac said the Philippines and Kuwait has general bilateral agreements, but none specifically on OFWs.

The Gulf state has not ratified, and is not a signatory to the 2003 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and the 1975 Convention concerning migrations in abusive conditions.