The Philippine government has lifted the deployment ban of migrant workers to Kuwait less than a month after it was imposed following the killing of a Filipino domestic worker there.
Philippine authorities said the lifting of the ban was made after charges against the perpetrators of the death of Filipino woman Jeanelyn Villavende, 26, have been filed in court.
Villavende’s family and labor groups in Manila protested the government decision.
Nelly Padernal, stepmother of the slain domestic worker, said the lifting of the ban makes the Philippines “a laughing stock of the tiny oil-rich Gulf state.”
She said Villavende’s family has been dismayed by the Philippine government’s decision. “The government should have held on to its pronouncement,” said Padernal.
In January, the Philippines imposed a total deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait over the alleged attempt by the Kuwaiti government to cover up the cause of Villavende’s death.
Investigations by Philippine authorities indicated that the woman was physically and sexually abused.
Villavende’s family earlier rejected about $1 million as “blood money” offered by the slain woman’s Kuwaiti employers in exchange for the withdrawal of criminal charges.
The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines urged labor officials to recall the lifting of the deployment ban.
Union president Raymond Mendoza accused Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello of breaking his word to ban Filipino workers from going to Kuwait.
Mendoza, who also heads the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs in Congress, said Bello promise to only lift the deployment ban as gets justice.
“Why are their hearts calloused and hands itchy to lift the ban,” said Mendoza.
The Labor Secretary last week announced the lifting of the ban in a meeting with local recruitment agencies.
“[It] leaves a bad taste in our mouths,” said Mendoza. “This is a disservice to our president’s advocacy for [migrant workers’] rights and welfare,” he added.
The nongovernment Blas F. Ople Policy Center also assailed the “abrupt” lifting of the ban.
“We are saddened by it as there remains unresolved issues,” said Susan Ople, the center’s head.
She said the announcement on the lifting of the ban before recruitment agency owners “was quite inappropriate, if not downright insensitive.”
The lifting of the deployment ban will allow the processing and deployment of all remaining categories of domestic workers or household service workers to Kuwait.
Government data shows there are about 250,000 Filipinos working in Kuwait, 65 percent of whom are domestic workers.