Dubai: A number of returning Filipino expatriates were initially denied exit at the international airport in the Philippines on Monday following the issuance of an order banning the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Gulf state.
The 200 travellers that encountered delays were vacationing Filipino workers with unfinished labour contracts in Kuwait.
According to an ABS CBN report, the “total ban” on OFW deployment has created confusion at the airport and left travelling OFWs worried.
Workers were initially denied the necessary clearances from the immigration and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
The Philippine government on Monday issued an administrative order to put a stop to the deployment of Filipino workers in Kuwait .The move is in response to a spate of abuse and maltreatment of OFWs in the Gulf state.
However, government personnel at the airport were not certain whether the order also covers returning OFWs with valid work permits.
One of the travelling OFWs who encountered delays, Evangeline Daniel, said she doesn’t see any reason why she should leave her current employer because she has been treated well.
“They’re good to me, so why look for another employer?” Daniel, who has been a domestic helper in Kuwait for seven years, told ABS CBN.
After the momentary holdup, however, Daniel and the rest of the returning OFWs were later granted the clearance to depart NAIA at around 9pm, Philippine time. The airport personnel were told that the new employment ban does not apply to returning OFWs.
The head of the country’s Department of Labour and Employment (Dole), Secretary Silvestre Bello III, had earlier explained that not all OFWs will be mandated to leave or denied exit to Kuwait.
The government will also have to review whether or not the ban should extend to Filipino expats on vacation, or those under the Balik Manggagawa program.
"Only those who want to go home and those who really have to [including Filipinos who are out of jobs] should leave," Bello said. Expats who are being treated well and have stable jobs can choose to stay.
The administrative order was issued following an order from President Rodrigo Duterte.
Amid reports of “inhuman treatment” of Filipino expats, Duterte had earlier called on OFWs based in Kuwait to leave the country in a mass repatriation programme.
By the numbers
10,000 - Estimated number of Filipino workers overstaying in Kuwait, according to Philippine Ambassador to Kuwait Renato Pedro Villa
8,000 - number of Filipina domestic workers (80%) who are illegally overstaying in Kuwait. The majority have claimed their employers abuse them.
400 - number of Filipinos brought back to the Philippines on Monday as part of the government's mass repatriation program
150 - number of OFWs who arrived on Tuesday
250 - number of OFWs from Kuwait expected to arrive in Manila on Wenesday
7 - The death of seven other Filipino household workers in Kuwait are being investigated, according to CNN