Returning OFWs from Kuwait to get help

Erwin P. Nicavera

THE Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) in Western Visayas will provide necessary help to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are returning from Kuwait, its top official said.

Dole-Western Visayas Director Johnson Cañete Tuesday, February 13, said they can tap partner-agencies to immediately provide benefits and assistance to recipient-workers.

He said Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III has instructed all regional offices to extend available aid aside from those that can be provided by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).

“The first help that we can extend is livelihood. Children of returning OFWs who want to study can also avail of our Special Program for Employment of Students,” Cañete said, adding that “if they already graduated, Dole can enroll them in government internship program.”

They can also be referred to the Public Employment Service Office (Peso) for job opportunities, he added.

On Monday, Bello signed an administrative order completely banning the deployment of all workers to Kuwait pursuant to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The order comes after authorities discovered the body of Joanna Daniela Demafelis, an OFW from Iloilo, inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment in Kuwait last week.

Aside from which, there is also an investigation on seven Filipino household workers killed in Kuwait.

The Philippine government will also help OFWs who want and need to go home, including those without jobs and being maltreated by their employers.

For those who want to return to Kuwait, Cañete said this is still a “gray area” that needs to be settled.

Cañete said they were instructed to interview OFWs before they can leave the country.

“We have to check whether they will really have good situation there. If so, then they can return to Kuwait,” he said, stressing that "other than this condition, deployment is totally banned.”

The government is expecting some 3,000 returning OFWs from Kuwait within 72 hours. These form part of the expected 25,000 Filipinos working in the said country.

The Dole-Western Visayas has yet to check with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on how many of them are from Western Visayas.

The Labor department has already provided a livelihood project to the Demafelis family aside from the P220,000 in death benefits from the Owwa.

Cañete said they are also coordinating with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) for possible scholarship for Demafelis’s younger brother.