Philippine officials have visited Kuwait to seek better protection for migrant workers after reports of alleged mistreatment of Filipinos in the Gulf state surfaced.
According to Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello, the delegation lead by one of his deputies would primarily demand Filipino workers to be allowed to keep their cellphones and passports, which most of the time are being confiscated by their employers.
Aside from Kuwait, the officials also traversed Saudi Arabia and Qatar to urge reforms.
The Kuwait trip follows President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent order on implementing total deployment ban for Filipino workers in the Gulf State after the incident involving Filipina domestic worker Joanna Demafelis.
Demafelis was found dead inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait. Her employers, a Lebanese man and his Syrian wife, are the suspects.
The deployment ban also sparked diplomatic panic between the Philippine and Kuwaiti government as Duterte allegedly exposed how Arab employers routinely rape Filipina workers, and force them to work 21 hours straight a day.
The Kuwaiti government has invited Duterte for a visit but he has yet to respond.
According to the authorities, there are about 252,000 Filipino workers in Kuwait, mostly domestic helpers. They are among the two million employed in the region, whose remittances are considered one of the pillars of the Philippine economy.