Bello to recommend partial lifting of Kuwait deployment ban

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 5) — Filipinos may soon be allowed to work in Kuwait again, as the Department of Labor and Employment seeks a partial lifting of the deployment ban to the Middle Eastern country.

On Wednesday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said, "I am considering lifting to the board the partial lifting of the ban with respect to semi-skilled and skilled workers and professionals and, probably ha, balik manggagawa."

The country approved a total ban on the deployment of workers to Kuwait in January, following the release of the local autopsy results on Jeanelyn Villavende, a Filipina domestic worker allegedly killed by her Kuwaiti employers in December.

Exempted from the ban, however, are skilled workers and professionals categorized as balik-manggagawa — or employees who took time off for vacation and holidays.

Bello said the accused in Villavende's death are already facing trial, he added he is hoping they will be convicted for murder and rape charges.

News of a possible partial lifting came after the Philippines and Kuwait signed an agreement on the proposed standard employment contract for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the Gulf State.

The template contract for OFWs is contained under a provision of a 2018 labor deal between the two countries — an agreement crafted to protect the welfare of Filipino workers in the Gulf State. Labor officials earlier attributed the delay of its finalization due to disagreements on certain rules in the provision.

Bello said the standard contract contains regulations endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte — including allowing Filipinos to keep their passports and cellphones, setting one day off with pay, as well as designating working and sleeping hours for the OFWs.