MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Wednesday said it is scaling down the deployment of workers to Kuwait over its new requirement for returning expatriates from the Philippines and nine other nations to present proof they are not infected with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said scaling down of deployment means that the government will slow down the issuance of overseas employment certificates (OEC) by delaying its processing for one month.
An OEC is an exit clearance for departing Filipino migrant workers.
“It’s not a retaliatory order, it’s a practical order. They are requiring so many requirements for our workers, that’s giving more burden to our workers. In order to prevent our workers from going there, they might as well go to other countries,” Bello told reporters in a briefing.
He, however, said he has spoken with the Department of Foreign Affairs to work out an arrangement with Kuwaiti authorities to honor medical certificates issued by Department of Health-run hospitals and local health centers, which are issued for free.
Kuwait, which reported 56 confirmed coronavirus infections, announced on Wednesday that expatriates from the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, Egypt, Syria, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Sri Lanka, Georgia and Lebanon.
READ: Expats from Philippines, 9 other countries returning to Kuwait to face new protocol amid COVID-19 spread
The new travel protocol, which will take effect on March 8, requires expatriates to undergo medical examination and present certificates that confirms they are not infected with the virus before entering the Gulf state.
These certificates must be issued by health centers approved by the Embassy of State of Kuwait. If there is no Kuwaiti embassy in these countries, they must be certified by the health authorities operating in the said countries.
Expatriates failing to comply with the new protocol will be denied entry to Kuwait and deported to their country of origin “without the State bearing any financial costs” through the same carrier.
The airline company will also be fined for violating the order.
The country’s partial deployment ban to Kuwait remains in place, only allowing semi-skilled, skilled, and professional workers to return to their employers. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)