March 21, 2018, 10:47 pm
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Duterte sets conditions for lifting deployment ban

PRESIDENT Duterte has set conditions that need to be followed by employers of Filipino migrant workers before he lifts the deployment ban in Kuwait.

Duterte said overseas Filipino workers should be treated well by their employers by allowing them to get enough sleep. They should also be fed properly and not subjected to sexual assault, and their employers should not confiscate their passports.

He said he will meet with concerned officials in Kuwait so they can talk about these conditions.

“Now, if these conditions are not met, I am sorry, you (OFWs) better go home,” Duterte said in his speech during the oath taking of officials of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission in Malacanang on Tuesday night.

He said migrant workers who will be barred from working in Kuwait will be given an allowance by the government to somehow help them with their financial needs.

“I cannot bear that a similar thing like Joanna Demafelis’ case will happen again – she was placed in a freezer, her body full of hematoma,” he added.

Duterte ordered a deployment ban in Kuwait after the discovery of the body of Demafelis that was stuffed for a year in a freezer in an apartment last February. Her body showed signs of torture.

Duterte also recalled that when he visited Saudi Arabia while still Davao City mayor, he was told that there are certain Arab tribes, especially those living in remote rural areas, who treat migrant workers inhumanely.

“If you work for them, if you are a slave bought from the slave markets of Africa or you are paid really to do housework, it includes sexual abuse for free. I kept this to myself for a long time. But now (that) I am President, I must tell you this because I cannot bear it anymore,” he said.

“The human body or the human being can only take so much. Destroyed physically and mentally. They are not fed for days, no sleep, then they will be raped by two, three men in a day. Then you will clean your employers’ house, your employers’ brother’s house, his brother-in-law’s,” he said.

Days after the discovery of Demafelis’ body, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said Nader Essam Assaf, a Lebanese, and his wife, Mona, a Syrian, were arrested by authorities in Lebanon in connection with Demafelis’ death.

Labor Secretary Silvestro Bello II earlier said a Memorandum of Understanding on labor policy is being worked out by the Philippines and Kuwait for the protection of OFWs. Aside from the MOU, he said the imposition of corresponding penalties against the persons behind the death of Demafelis will convince Duterte to lift the deployment ban.

Included in the proposed MOU is an agreement that the passports of OFWs must remain with them or deposited with the Office of the Philippine Labor attaché in coordination with the Philippine Embassy, and OFWs will be allowed to use their cell phones to contact their families and the Philippine government.
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