Bello signs memorandum on partial deployment ban to Kuwait

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 3, 2020   •   1430

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)

Bello tells micro, small biz:  Apply for a 13th-month pay loan

Maris Federez   •   November 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has announced that micro and small enterprises that are having difficulty in financing the 13th-month pay of their employees can apply for a government loan.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III made the call on Friday during the ceremonial launch of the loan program with the Department of Trade and Industry and its financing arm, the Small Business Corporation (SBCorp), reminding employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandatory.

The labor chief, however, assured establishments that are still struggling amid the re-opening of the economy of the government’s support through SBCorp.

“Let me remind the employers that the grant of 13th-month pay is mandatory. We issued a Labor Advisory where we maintained that no exemption and no deferment will be allowed on the payment of the 13th-month pay,” Bello said.

“So, with this loan facility from SB Corporation, there is no more reason to not give the 13th-month pay,” he added.

As of November 12, a total of 25 loan applications amounting to P5.052 million were already approved by SBCorp.

DOLE said qualified borrowers are the micro and small enterprises that have implemented flexible work arrangements and registered under the agency’s Establishment Reporting System as of October 15, 2021.

The zero-interest rate, no collateral loan program can cover up to 40 employees per establishment.

The loanable amount is at P12,000 per current employee which is payable in 12 months, inclusive of the three-month grace period.

“I encourage our employers, especially yung mga nahihirapan pa, to avail of this facility so that they can comply with the mandate to pay our workers with what is due them, especially this Christmas season,” said Bello.

The labor chief invites interested micro and small enterprises to apply at www.bayanihancares.ph. —/mbmf

PH to re-deploy OFWs after South Korea lifts restrictions – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   November 8, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino workers will soon be re-deployed to South Korea after entry restrictions into the country have been lifted, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

In a statement on Sunday, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he has directed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to commence the processing of deployment of workers as he welcomed the South Korean government’s decision.

“This is a very good news not only to our EPS (entry permit system) workers and their families, but also to the Korean employers who have been waiting for our workers to return,” he said.

Last Friday, Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL) announced it will allow the entry of workers under EPS from all sending countries, including the Philippines starting this November.

According to MOEL, the entry of EPS workers will be subject to pre-entry measures such as full vaccination and negative PCR test results, and post-entry measures such as mandatory quarantine and PCR testing.

The Korean Embassy in the Philippines said it is awaiting guidelines from the South Korean government on the issuance of E9 visas to Filipino EPS workers.

Bello said he has directed the POEA to immediately meet with the Korean government officials to discuss the requirements and procedures for the re-entry of EPS workers to Korea, in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in the Philippine Embassy in Seoul.

Since 2004, the Philippines has been sending Filipino workers to Korea under a government-to-government cooperation agreement on EPS.

The deployment of workers was temporarily halted in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic.

Bello: KSA to pay P4.6B unpaid salaries of OFWs in December

Maris Federez   •   November 1, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has announced that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were forced to return to the Philippines after they stopped receiving remuneration will be able to receive their unpaid salaries in December.

The DOLE said the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) is expected to pay P4.6 billion in unpaid salaries to 9,000 OFWs.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, in a statement, said he is optimistic the payment will be made when KSA Labor Minister Ahmed al-Rajhi visits the country in December this year.

“So, the unpaid salaries of our OFWs can be settled just in time for Christmas,” the Labor chief said.

Bello was in KSA last week to attend the Abu Dhabi Dialogue, a forum for talks and cooperation between Asian Countries of labor origin and destination.

It aims to enable safe, orderly, and regular labor migration in some of the world’s largest temporary labor migration corridors.

There, Bello was invited by Al-Rajhi for a private meeting where the KSA labor executive appealed for the lifting of the suspension on Arab mega recruitment agencies.

These agencies were reportedly the ones who were responsible for the deployment of OFWs whose salaries and benefits remained unpaid.

Bello assured Al Rahji that the Philippines would lift the deployment ban in exchange for the payment of salaries of the OFWs.

Repatriated by the government in 2016, the unpaid OFWs, through the help of state lawyers, won the case over their unsettled pay in KSA.

Despite the legal victory, however, the KSA government refused to pay the OFWs.

“But our government is really thankful that the meeting with the KSA labor minister was fruitful,” Bello said. —/mbmf

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