TWO solons called for a congressional hearing on a possible violation of the Memorandum of Agreement between the Philippines and Kuwait.
ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap and 1PACMAN Rep. Eric Pineda made the call following the death of another Filipina domestic helper in Kuwait.
In separate statements, both lawmakers condemned the killing of Jeanelyn Villavende reportedly by the wife of his employer.
Yap, chairman of the House Committee on Games and Amusement, said that this is a blatant disregard not only of the agreement between Kuwait and Philippines on OFW welfare but human dignity as a whole.
“Dito natin masusubok ngayon kung talagang may mangyayari sa agreement natin sa kanila matapos ang deployment ban na in-enforce ng Pilipinas noong nakaraang taon. Dapat maparusahan ang gumawa nito sa ating kababayan at gumulong ang hustisya sa kasong ito,” Yap said.
“Hindi natin agad hinihimok ang ating pamahalaan na magkaroon ng panibagong deployment ban dahil maaaring ilang pamilya ng mga OFW sa Kuwait ang madadamay sa pangyayaring ito. Pero kung hindi magkakaroon ng maayos na resolusyon itong kaso ni Jeanelyn,” he added.
The solon said if the government cannot resolve such cases it is better to totally ban the deployment of OFW in Kuwait.
“Our OFWs are the most sought after workers in the world at hindi tayo papayag na para tayong nagmamakaawa at titiisin ang mga hindi makatarungang pag-trato sa kanila para lamang kumita ng pera. Maraming ibang bansa dyan na igagalang ang dignidad ng ating mga kababayan at igagalang ang kanilang karapatan. Anong nangyari sa agreement ng Kuwait at Pilipinas? Ilang Jeanelyn Villavende pa o Joanna Demafelis ang magdurusa?” Yap said.
For his part, Pineda called for a thorough review of the agreement between the two countries.
On May 11, 2018, the Kuwaiti Government and the Philippines signed an agreement for the protection and welfare of Filipino overseas workers after the death of household service worker Joanna Demafelis, which eventually led to a ban on deployment of OFWs to Kuwait.
“As Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment and likewise the Senior Vice Chairman of the Overseas Workers Affairs Committee, I am pushing for our government to impose a deployment ban to Kuwait until we are satisfied with their government’s actions with respect to the death of Overseas Filipino Worker, Jeanelyn Villavende; until justice is served,” Pineda said.
He further implied that “if the Kuwaiti Government is actually concerned about our workers, it should ensure that they are well protected. Because we will not allow our vulnerable Filipinos to be deployed to work in foreign lands without the assurance that the foreign state will give them the protection they need.
“I call upon all our government agencies to shed light on the matter so that Congress may act upon these issues and consider necessary legislation and policy direction.
“The agreement requires the two countries to uphold ethical recruitment policies, systems, and procedures for the recruitment and employment of domestic workers subject to their laws and regulations. It requires employers to provide food, housing and clothing to their workers; and for the countries to take legal action against erring employers,” he said.