Reevaluating Kuwait’s Deployment Ban: Representative Ron Salo’s Urgent Call for Change

Reevaluating Kuwait's Deployment Ban

Urgent Call for Reevaluation and Lifting of Deployment Ban

On March 11, 2024, Representative Ron P. Salo, Kabayan Partylist Representative and Chairperson of the Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs, fervently called for reevaluating and subsequently lifting the deployment ban to Kuwait.

Privilege Speech of KABAYAN Partylist Rep. Ron Salo on calling for the lifting of the Deployment Ban to Kuwait on March 11, 2024
Privilege Speech of KABAYAN Partylist Rep. Ron Salo on calling for the lifting of the Deployment Ban to Kuwait on March 11, 2024 (© Official Facebook Page of Hon. Ron P. Salo)


Grave Concerns Over Prolonged Ban

In a statement addressed to the House of Representatives, Representative Salo emphasized the grave concerns surrounding the ban, which has been in effect since February 2023.

Kuwait responded to the ban by suspending the issuance of new visas to Filipinos since May 2023, exacerbating challenges faced by Filipino workers in Kuwait and those aspiring to seek employment there.

The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) justified the deployment ban following the 2023 case of Jullebee Ranara, citing it as a protective measure aimed at safeguarding newly hired household workers from potential abuse and maltreatment by Kuwaiti employers.

This marks the third time the Philippine government has imposed a deployment ban on Kuwait in 5 years in response to heinous crimes against Filipino workers. In 2018, following the tragic case of Joanna Demafelis, authorities enforced a ban, subsequently lifting it three months later following the signing of a bilateral labor agreement. Similarly, in 2020, another ban was imposed after the case of Jeanelyn Villavende, only to be lifted a month later.

Kuwait condemns Philippine deployment ban on OFW deployment

Advocacy and Strategy

Rep. Salo underscored Kuwait’s prompt legal actions in addressing the recent deaths of Filipino migrant workers at the hands of their employers. “In the cases of OFWs Demafelis, Villavende, and Ranara, authorities brought the perpetrators to justice in 2 months, 1 year, and 9 months, respectively. Moreover, the 2018 bilateral agreement outlines processes that Filipinos and their employers should undertake whenever incidents occur,” Rep. Salo noted.

However, he raised concerns about the necessity of prolonging the ban and urged clarity on the DMW’s strategy moving forward. Despite President Ferdinand Marcos’s announcement in October 2023 regarding the imminent lifting of the deployment ban, concrete progress from the DMW remains elusive.

“What message does the DMW wish to convey to the Kuwaiti Government? What message do they wish to convey to our fellow Filipinos – to the 272,000 Filipinos in Kuwait wanting to go home and continue their employment, and to the countless others who wish to try their luck in Kuwait?”

– Representative Salo

Furthermore, Rep. Salo highlighted the misguided perception that Filipinos are indispensable in the global workforce, emphasizing the competence and readiness of workers from other nationalities. “The bitter truth is a lot of other nationalities are equally competent, prepared, and willing to grab the opportunities available to Filipinos. Certainly, much as we would want to believe, we are not irreplaceable,” Rep. Salo emphasized.

Representative Salo urged a reevaluation of the country’s strategy and prompt seeking of opportunities for dialogue with Kuwait, advocating for the adoption of more proactive measures to protect Filipino migrant workers. “I have always advocated for the development of more comprehensive and proactive measures that will physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically prepare our migrant workers. Perhaps it is high time to study and put our attention into ensuring that our people are prepared before leaving the Philippines,” Rep. Salo concluded.

To hear Ron Salo’s full statement click here:

Recent Developments

OFWs in a Kuwait Airport
OFWs in a Kuwait Airport (© The Filipino Times)

On May 21, 2024, Rep. Ron Salo met with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials, including Assistant Secretary Mardomel Melicor and Assistant Secretary Robert Ferrer, to discuss the recommendations of the recent Congressional Mission to Libya. The discussions also encompassed the current status of the deployment ban to Kuwait. Rep. Salo and the KABAYAN Partylist ensures their continuous effort to uplift the lives of OFWs, ensuring their rights and welfare are prioritized in the government’s programs.


Current update

A Testament to Friendship and Cooperation

Kuwait and the Philippines have agreed to resume the recruitment of Filipino workers, a decision reached during a bilateral meeting at Seif Palace on June 23, 2024. The discussions, presided over by His Excellency Sheikh Fahad Yousef Saud Al-Sabah, Kuwait’s First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Interior, and Mr. Bernard Olalia, the Philippines’ Deputy Minister of Migrant Workers, were evidence of the two countries’ long-standing friendship and cooperation.

Guided by a sincere desire to strengthen bilateral work relations, the two sides successfully resolved the issue of Filipino worker recruitment, reaching a series of key agreements:

  1. Lifting of the Ban: The ban on the issuance of entry and work visas for Filipino nationals has been lifted, paving the way for a renewed flow of skilled labor to Kuwait.
  2. Recruitment of Experienced Domestic Workers: Filipino domestic workers with prior experience working abroad are now eligible for recruitment, ensuring that Kuwaiti households have access to qualified and experienced help

In a further demonstration of their commitment to cooperation, both countries have agreed to establish a joint technical working committee. Following the guidelines outlined in the 2018 “Agreement on the Employment of Domestic Workers,” this committee, made up of qualified authorities from both sides, will regularly meet to discuss labor-related issues and address any future concerns.

This agreement marks a new chapter in the relationship between Kuwait and the Philippines, one that is built on mutual respect, understanding, and a shared vision for a prosperous future.

Let us wait for further updates on the policies and regulations that apply to it.


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