Sen. Villanueva: Domestic workers must first get TESDA certification before Kuwait deployment

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — Senate Labor Committee chair Joel Villanueva on Wednesday said household service workers must obtain a certification from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) before they can go to Kuwait.

"Baka pwede na nating i-institutionalize yung requirement right now from the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Agency) na ang Household Service Workers dapat at least you are TESDA NC2 holder before i-deploy kasi maraming nabibiktima yung mga hindi adept," Villanueva said in a Senate hearing.

[Translation: Maybe we can institutionalize the POEA requirement right now that household service workers should at least be a TESDA NC2 holder before being deployed, because many of the victims are not adept.]

Labor authorities also agreed that carrying out some provisions of the labor deal with Kuwait should be institutionalized to make them mandatory.

Villanueva, a former TESDA Director General, also said a number of laws are not implemented properly, including the data system to monitor distressed Filipino workers in Kuwait.

"In fact, inamin nila na merong namang data available sa DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), sa POEA, sa DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) pero yung sinasaad ng batas 23 years na ito'y dapat ma-collate into a databse at maibigay sa PSA (Philippine Statistics Authority)hindi pa rin nila nagagawa. Medyo nakakadismaya talaga and I mentioned earlier it's unacceptable," he said.

[Translation: In fact, they admitted that data were available with DOLE, POEA, and DFA, but the 23-year-old law states that these should be collated into a database and given to the PSA. This is still not followed. This is disappointing and I mentioned earlier it's unacceptable.]

The deployment ban on household service workers or domestic workers has yet to be lifted, pending the release of the implementing rules and regulations.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello said, however, skilled workers can now look for jobs in the Gulf State after confirming President Rodrigo Duterte has lifted the ban.

Besides improving the monitoring system, a joint committee will be set up to assess the condition of Filipino workers in Kuwait, especially household service workers.

The POEA will also conduct training for household helpers and foreign employers on the rights of workers.

Labor authorities also discussed setting standards and protocols in rescuing distressed Filipino workers in the wake of the controversial rescue video that caused strained the country's relations with Kuwait.

Around 262,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait as of 2018, with 170,000 recorded as household service workers.