Government allows skilled, semi-skilled workers to Kuwait

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 15) — Skilled and semi-skilled workers may now seek employment in Kuwait, but the ban on allowing household helpers to work in the Gulf state stays, a Malacañang official said.

In a media briefing Tuesday, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the deployment ban has been partially lifted after a deal to protect Filipino workers was signed in Kuwait on May 11.

"Kung hindi po ako nagkakamali, na-i-lift na po ngayon ni Secretary (Silvestre) Bello 'yan," Roque said on CNN Philippines Balitaan.

[Translation: If I'm not mistaken, the ban was lifted by Secretary Silvestre Bello.]

This means new hires for skilled and semi-skilled work can now have their employment certificates processed at the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency.

Roque said while they are anticipating around 20,000 workers would take the opportunity to work in Kuwait, the door remains closed for household helpers

"Ang ban on domestic helpers eventually will be lifted, hindi ko lang po alam kung kailan, at kung ano pa 'yung mga repormang gagawin ng DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment)," the Malacañang spokesman said.

[Translation: The ban on domestic helpers eventually will be lifted, I just don't know when, and what other reforms DOLE will do.]

Roque said Malacañang is awaiting advice from Abdullah Mama-o, the special envoy to Kuwait, on the fate of the deployment ban.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said he is open to lifting the restriction, but was unclear if he wants it fully or partially lifted.

READ: Duterte open to lifting deployment ban in Kuwait

Duterte imposed the ban in February in the wake of reports Filipino workers were abused and even died in the Gulf state, including household helper Joanna Demafelis whose body was found inside a freezer of her employers' residence.