Bello signs memorandum on partial deployment ban to Kuwait

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 3, 2020   •   562

Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III

The Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed a memorandum partially banning deployment of domestic workers to Kuwait.

This was after the death of Jeanelyn Padernal Villavende who was allegedly beaten to death by her employer in December.

Based on the memorandum, first-time domestic workers will be banned from being deployed to Kuwait while skilled and vacationing workers will not be covered by the ban.

“With the recent reported cases of maltreatment and deaths involving OFWs in Kuwait, you are hereby instructed to immediately convene the Governing Board for the immediate issuance of a deployment ban involving Visa 20 (domestic workers) new hires and balik-manggagawa,” the memorandum reads.

According to Bello, the partial ban will also cover former domestic workers.

“Kasi kung balik-manggagawa (If you are a balik-manggagawa), you still have an existing employment and you just went home for a vacation and you will go back to your employment. You are not covered. But if you are a former household worker, and you would like to go back for another employment, covered ka sa ban,” he said.

Recruitment agencies are also required to reimburse all the expenses of the Oversease Filipino Workers (OFW) affected by the ban.

The governing body of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), who are tasked to form a resolution to implement the partial deployment ban, already held a meeting on Friday (January 3).

Meanwhile, during their meeting about the rights of OFWs in Kuwait, Kuwaiti Ambassador Musaed Saleh Ahmad Althwaikh had asked the Labor Secretary to postpone the partial ban.

Bello reiterated they will push through with the partial ban however, there will be a possible lifting of the partial ban if the employers of Villavende will be accused.

“We might consider lifting. We might. Hindi ko pa sinasabi na we will. Kung filan nila ng physical injuries, hindi naman, (Am not saying that we will. If they will file charges due to physical injuries then we might not),” he said.

Bello reiterated that until the Kuwaiti government has not set an action to bring justice to the death of the Villavende, they will continue to implement the partial ban to Kuwait.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Construction of first hospital for OFWs set to begin – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The construction of the first hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) is set to begin following the signing of a memorandum of agreement for the project between the government and private donors, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Friday.

In a statement, DOLE said the deal which signals the commencement of the project construction was signed in a ceremony held last week in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III led the signing of the agreement with representatives from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Health, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), other officials from the local government and the Bloomberry Cultural Foundation.

Under the agreement, Pagcor will donate P200 million for the acquisition and installation of equipment and facilities for the hospital, while Bloomberry Cultural Foundation will shoulder the cost of construction amounting to P400 million.

The local government of Pampanga has donated a two-hectare property in Barangay Sindalan for the project.

In his remarks during the signing ceremony, Bello lauded the signatories’ commitment to building the first and only hospital in the Philippines that will provide free medical services to the country’s modern-day heroes.

“This hospital is going to be built to recognize the heroism of our OFWs who continue to power economic growth in the country,” Bello said.

“It’s a fitting tribute to Filipino workers who, through their valuable remittances, have kept the economy afloat during many challenging times,” he added.

DOLE said the hospital is expected to be completed in May 2021.

Once completed, the hospital will render free services when OFWs are securing medical certificates covering laboratory exams and other requirements for their overseas deployment. 

DOLE mandates mental health policies in workplaces

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 21, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has mandated the implementation of mental health policies and programs in workplaces.

In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III provided the guidelines through Department Order No. 208, signed on February 11, for the effective implementation of mental health policies and programs.

“The directive hopes to raise further awareness, prevent stigma and discrimination among Filipino workers in as far as mental health conditions are concerned and provide support to workers with mental health issues for them to gain access to medical health services,” he said.

The directive covers employers in the formal sector, including those that deploy overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“Components of a mental health program shall include advocacy, information, education, training as well as promotion and enhancement of workers’ well-being; non-discriminatory policies and practices; confidentiality of information; disclosure of medical or mental condition; work accommodation and work arrangement; treatment, rehabilitation, and referral system; benefits and compensation, among others” according to the Labor Department.

The organization’s mental health program will be prepared by the management and employee’s representatives as an integral part of the company’s occupational safety and health (OSH) policies and programs.—AAC

DOLE assures job security for Filipino crew in cruise ship

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 18, 2020

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has assured job security for the Filipino crew in the quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess.

DOLE Usec. Ana Dione. said the labor attache of the Philippines in Japan is already coordinating with the Japanese company that owns the Diamond Princess for the job security of the repatriated Filipino crew.

“Tutulong and DOLE diyan through our POLO [Philippine Overseas Labor Office] offices na i-secure iyong kanilang trabaho, now kung mag-desisyon sila kung babalik o hindi nasa kanila na iyon (DOLE will help through our POLO offices in securing their jobs. Now, it is their decision if they wish to return or not),” she said.

After the 14-day quarantine on Wednesday (February 19), the DOLE said they are prepared to repatriate the over 500 Filipino crew and passengers.

“Exact date ay hindi natin iyan kayang sabihin sa ngayon, (we cannot say the exact date as of now) but we are hoping that within this month,” according to Dione.

The repatriated Filipinos will also undergo the 14-day quarantine period, based on the protocol of the Department of Health (DOH).—AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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