POEA suspends recruitment agency over death of Filipino worker in Kuwait

Robie de Guzman   •   January 8, 2020   •   567

MANILA, Philippines – The recruitment agency that deployed Jeanelyn Villavende to work as domestic helper in Kuwait has been suspended, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said Wednesday.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said the 5-star recruitment and manpower agency that deployed Villavende was ordered suspended on January 2 for its alleged inaction over her complaints of maltreatment and underpayment of salary.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) earlier revealed that as early as September, the victim repeatedly sent requests for repatriation to her recruitment agency before she was killed in December.

DOLE has directed the recruitment agency to explain its lack of action on Villavende’s case.

“Inamin naman nila na hindi sila nakapagbigay ng monitoring report and that’s the reason why there was a disciplinary action imposed upon the agency,” Olalia said.

The POEA official, however, clarified the agency’s license is not yet suspended as the investigation is still ongoing.

“We’re still awaiting the appropriate administrative case that will be filed if ever there is any against the said agency,” he said.

Preliminary reports submitted by Labor Attaché Nasser Mustafa of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Kuwait revealed that Villavende was beaten to death, purportedly by her employer, and was already dead when brought to a hospital. Attending nurses reported that she was ‘black and blue.’

The Kuwaiti employer has been detained by authorities and awaiting the filing of charges.

The Philippine government has since stopped sending newly-hired household service workers to Kuwait.

DOLE said the partial deployment ban may remain until justice is service for Villavende.

This is not the first time that the Philippines imposed a deployment ban of Filipino workers to Kuwait.

In 2018, a total deployment ban was implemented after a string of reports of Filipino workers being abused and killed in Kuwait, including household service worker Joanna Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment.

The ban was lifted months later after the Philippine and Kuwaiti governments signed a labor pact for the protection of Filipino workers there. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

Filipino health workers with existing contracts abroad may leave – IATF

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has decided to allow Filipino healthcare professionals with existing work contracts abroad to leave the country despite restrictions on general travel due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Presidential Legal Adviser Salvador Panelo confirmed that the IATF reconsidered the deployment ban on health workers that was issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) last week.

“Those with existing perfected employment contracts will be able to leave,” Panelo said adding that he also sent a memo to President Rodrigo Duterte recommending the lifting of travel ban on health workers with such employment status.

“The IATF resolution is subject to the approval of the President,” he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin on Twitter announced the good news.

He clarified, however, that future applications are frozen until further notice provided that all 250,000 nurses exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) ratio of people-to-nurses must be given employment.

READ: DFA not pleased with POEA’s deployment ban on Filipino healthcare workers

IATF to review POEA’s order to ban deployment of Filipino healthcare workers abroad

Marje Pelayo   •   April 13, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Inter Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) will look into the decision of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to suspend deployment of Filipino medical professionals and healthcare workers abroad.

There is a request na ipa-review sa IATF kaya bukas po sa IATF meeting pag-uusapan namin ito at kung ano man ang lalabas doon sa aming napag-usapan ay ibabalita naming sa publiko,” according to IATF-EID Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles.

(There is a request for the IATF to review [the order], so tomorrow during the IATF meeting we will discuss this and whatever the result of the discussion, we will let the public know.)

The moratorium which was signed on April 2 by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered a temporary deployment ban on Filipino health care workers abroad “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until the COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”

The decision was “to support the national objective of controlling the spread of COVID-19 through the regulation in the deployment of Filipino healthcare workers through mission critical skills (MCS) framework and to prioritize human resource allocation for the national healthcare system at the time of the national state of emergency.”

Several Filipino healthcare workers were offloaded from their flights last week.

READ: DFA not pleased with POEA’s deployment ban on Filipino healthcare workers

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) claimed such an order violates the Constitution and promised to look into the matter to help the stranded Filipino healthcare workers so they may be able to go back to work where they have existing contracts. MNP (with inputs from Rosalie Coz)

DFA not pleased with POEA’s deployment ban on Filipino healthcare workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 11, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has banned medical health workers from leaving the country as local hospitals are becoming understaffed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

In a resolution dated April 2, the POEA Governing Board led by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered the suspension of overseas deployment of Filipino doctors and nurses until the state of emergency is lifted.

Aside from doctors and nurses, healthcare professionals who are covered by the deployment ban include microbiologists, clinical analysts, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, radiologic technicians, nursing assistants, supervisor of health services and personal care, and even repairman of hospital equipment.

POEA said it is prioritizing “human resource allocation for the national health care system at the time of the national state of emergency” as the government works on controlling the spread of COVID-19.

It added that in light of the COVID-19 crisis, it is of “paramount national interest to ensure that the country shall continue to have, sustain the supply and prepare sufficient health personnel to meet any contingencies.”

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary Dodo Dulay tweeted a copy of the DOLE-POEA resolution to which Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. expressed dismay over.

Locsin said such a decision is against the Constitution.

He added that holding Filipino healthcare workers to volunteer in the country will only serve justice if the government would pay them the same amount they get abroad.

As an impact of the sudden deployment ban, many health care professionals who have existing employment abroad and were supposed to leave the country were offloaded at airports.

In response, Locsin said he will look into the matter to help the stranded Filipino healthcare workers so they may be able to go back to work where they have existing contracts.

It is not clear in the POEA resolution what specific employment status of Filipino healthcare workers it covers — whether the ban is applicable to newly hires only or also to returning healthcare workers who have existing contracts abroad.

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