Officials to work on Kuwait labor deal rules after Ramadan

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 17) — Rules to implement a labor deal between the Philippines and Kuwait will be ironed out after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, on official said Thursday.

"Ang importante ngayon ay mahusay na mahusay tayong nagkasundo, the avenues for providing greater care and protection are in place," Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Deputy Administrator Arnel Ignacio said.

Ramadan is from May 17 to mid-June.

While the ban on sending workers to Kuwait has been lifted, first-time workers are advised to wait for the implementing rules and regulations before leaving.

The labor deal includes provisions that would protect the welfare of Filipino workers in Kuwait.

"Ang sigurado natin eh hindi ito matatagalan, mamadaliin natin ito dahil the Kuwaiti government is also excited na mag-normalize lahat ng relasyon para kung ano man yung mga gusto ipahatid para sa atin mga kababayan mas madali mapag-uusapan," Ignacio said.

Ignacio said the private sector or foreign recruitment agencies are working with the government on their plan to set up an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) center where workers can bond and meet up during their days off.

He also reminded local recruitment firms they are accountable to the OFWs they send abroad.

Pending specific plans, Ignacio said OWWA and the recruitment firms are looking at blacklisting employers with bad records.

President Rodrigo Duterte imposed the deployment 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.

Kuwait is a top destination for Filipino workers, with some 262,000 Filipinos working there as of this year. Of this number, 170,000 are household service workers.

As of February 2018, remittances from Kuwait amounted to P5.5 billion, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. In 2017, a total of P42 billion was remitted from the Gulf State.