By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The General Alliance of Workers Association (GAWA) responded to the government’s ban on deploying overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Kuwait, amid reports surrounding the deaths of several migrant workers, expressing their concern over local unemployment.
“[The ban] will have an impact on the problem of unemployment, which is already high,” said GAWA Secretary-General Wennie Sancho.
“Our labor force is about 42.5 million, with a labor participation rate of 60.6 percent,” he explained. “The deployment ban will compound our unemployment and underemployment rate.”
On Monday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) enforced the ban, with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III directing the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration to stop processing overseas employment certificates of Kuwait-bound workers.
Meanwhile, DOLE is currently working with Chinese officials to possibly open employment to returning OFWs.
“The labor secretary is finalizing the mechanism by which we can deploy workers to China as an alternative destination,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a press conference earlier this week.
He also noted, Russia is another alternative being considered.
Both Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have agreed to provide special flights between Manila and Kuwait for the purpose of bringing OFWs back home.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said around 800 Kuwait-based OFWs will be among the first batch returning to the Philippines in the coming days./DGB, WDJ