Published: Wednesday 14 February, 2018

‘Balik Manggagawa’ OFWs Returning to Kuwait Barred from Leaving at NAIA

Dozens of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) leaving for Kuwait have been stopped at NAIA by immigration officers. Some of the OFWs barred were ‘Balik Manggagawa’, or returning workers after spending a short vacation in the country.

Kuwait OFW ban

What will happen to the hundreds of thousands of OFWs in Kuwait? (Global Balita image)

The ban of OFW deployment to Kuwait has taken effect. This some Pinoy workers found out when they were stopped from leaving at NAIA. According to the report of GMA News, about 100 OFWs were barred from leaving.

UPDATE: The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) revised its order on the Kuwait ban on Wednesday, letting Balik Manggagawa return to their jobs. Under Administrative Order No. 54 A, Series of 2018, signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the ban covers “all types of workers being deployed for the first time for overseas employment in Kuwait, without distinction as to skill, profession, or type of work.”

The Duterte government announced only the day before (Monday February 12) that it is implementing a total ban of OFW deployment to the said Middle East nation following the death of domestic worker Joanna Daniela Demafelis, whose body was found inside a freezer in an abandoned apartment. Her Lebanese and Syrian employers were nowhere to be found and, according to reports, already fled Kuwait more than a year ago. This means Demafelis had been inside the freezer since then.

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The body was discovered by Kuwaiti police implementing an eviction order on the OFWs employers.

But many of those barred from leaving were OFWs returning to their jobs after a short vacation in the Philippines, otherwise known as Balik Manggagawa. Now, their status is in limbo. Some complained that they had been employed for several years without any problems. Others worried about the belongings they left behind in Kuwait.

But immigration officers at NAIA said they were just implementing the order they received from the Duterte administration.

“Ang Bureau of Immigration po ay tumutugon lamang sa binigay ng instruction ng ating pangulo at ng ating Secretary of Labor at kami po ay nag-aantay ng direktiba o tinatawag na Implementing Rules and Regulation na mag-specify kung ano pa ba ang papayag at di papayagan papuntang Kuwait,” said Marc Red Mariñas.

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The OFW ban effected by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) covers ALL jobs and not just domestic workers. It also covers ALL kinds of deployment and not just new hires.